Ranked Teams Overpriced

With handicapping legend Tony Salinas


I've been warning you for years that ranked teams in college basketball become extremely overpriced in Las Vegas once you get into conference play.

The public loves betting on teams they think are playing great...and anybody high up in the rankings must represent the cream of the crop in the sport in their view. Oddsmakers stack the line against the public, which means that ranked teams have to play great to cover their spreads. Ranked teams DON'T want to peak in late January or early February though. They want to peak in MARCH when it matters. So, you're not going to get the best from these teams every time out. And, of course, opposing teams love pulling upsets over ranked teams, particularly at home because then the whole student body gets to do a group hug at midcourt after the win.

This past Saturday showed exactly what I've been talking about. It was one of the most extreme Saturdays we've seen in years in terms of ranked teams failing to meet expectations. I hope you were paying close attention. I hope you weren't one of the people losing their shirts! This is what GETTING THE BEST OF IT is all about, understanding how the world really works and making money off it.


#1 Ohio State (-10) barely beat Northwestern 58-57
#2 Pittsburgh (-10) barely beat Rutgers 65-62
#5 Connecticut (-5.5) lost to #19 Louisville 79-78 in overtime
#7 Villanova (-4.5) lost to #20 Georgetown 69-66
#9 BYU (-2.5) lost to New Mexico 86-77
#10 Syracuse (+2) lost to Marquette 76-70
#11 Texas A&M (+2) lost to Nebraska 57-48
#15 Wisconsin (-3.5) lost to Penn State 56-52
#16 Kentucky (-11) snuck by Georgia 66-60
#22 Vanderbilt (-13) lost badly to Arkansas 89-78
#23 Florida (-6) lost at Mississippi State 71-64
#24 St. Mary's (-6) was ripped by Portland 85-70
#25 Utah State (-9) had to go overtime to beat Hawaii 89-84

That's an unlucky 13 teams who were either ranked higher than their opponent, or facing an unranked opponent who failed to cover their spreads. One double digit favorite lost outright (Vandy), failing to cover by 24 points. Three others barely won (Northwestern had a shot at the buzzer that would have beaten #1 Northwestern).

Oh, nine of the 13 lost their games outright. So, in those games, it's not like getting a free point or two in the line mattered. This was clearly a case of underdogs getting fired up to beat a team with a target on its back. Fading ranked teams (or the better team when two ranked squads meet) works because you're getting free points AND a great effort from a motivated dog.

Only four ranked favorites managed to cover their spreads on that day...


#4 San Diego State (-20) annihilated Wyoming 96-57 as they bounced back from their loss the other night to Brigham Young.

#6 Kansas (-10) drummed demoralized Kansas State 90-66 in front of a big crowd for ESPN's 'GameDay' showcase.

#8 Texas (-7.5) continued its hot play with a 71-58 win over #13 Missouri.

#12 Purdue (-8.5) bounced back from a big loss to Ohio State with a 73-61 win over #18 Minnesota

So, two of the four success stories were understandable bounce backs where a good team had a chip on their shoulder and WERE likely to play a peak game. One involved Texas, who's playing so much better than oddsmakers realize the past few weeks that they still haven't figured out where to put the line.

No strategies are perfect in the world of sports wagering. You try to win more than you lose and show a profit. Fading ranked teams, or the better of two ranked teams in a heads-up meeting went 13-4 vs. the number this past Saturday. Maybe we won't see something THIS extreme again the rest of the way. But, if history is any guide, we'll see ranked teams taking the worst of it against the number until MARCH MADNESS brings out the best in everyone. And, even then, some top programs will stay overpriced because the public can't help betting on hype.

Keep that in mind as you handicap college basketball this week, and through the month of February. I'll be back with you next Monday to outline some additional handicapping notes for the baskets.

Oh, I focused on this past Saturday in this article because the results kept coming in hour-by-hour telling the same story. I know many members of the general public who lost very badly that day...and some pro's who did well. The story obviously continued Sunday when #3 Duke was routed by St. John's 93-78 as an 8-point favorite. Another non-cover. Another outright loss. Another big name ranked team with a target on its back that couldn't come anywhere near expectations. These are the kinds of games you win if you sign up with TONY SALINAS!

You can sign up for my basketball service here at the website with your credit card. Any seasonal purchase will include my Super Bowl selections at no additional charge. Game day plays can also be purchased online a few hours before the games get started each day. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-888-536-8880.

Stop listening to media hype and taking the worst of it with your Las Vegas bets. Sign up with TONY SALINAS and start GETTING THE BEST OF IT!

'GETTING THE BEST OF IT' is an ongoing series presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and legendary high roller TONY SALINAS. For more information on TONY'S handicapping packages, call 1-888-536-8880.


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