The college basketball season tips off Tuesday night. We're here to get you primed with a plethora of betting notes and nuggets from Vegas and beyond.
National title bets
• Most money wagered to win the national championship at the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas:
2. North Carolina
• Most bets to win the national championship at William Hill sportsbooks in Nevada and New Jersey:
• Top five teams against the spread over last five seasons (min. 100 lined games):
1. Villanova 93-56-1
2. Virginia Tech 68-45-1
3. Purdue 74-52-4
4. Virginia 75-53-2
5. Buffalo 68-49-7
• Worst five teams ATS over the last five seasons (min. 100 lined games):
1. Pittsburgh 47-70-3
2. Tulane 41-61-1
3. UConn 51-71-1
4. Missouri State 49-68-4
5. George Washington 52-71-5
• Top five teams in Ken Pomeroy's ratings:
3. North Carolina
• Bottom five in Ken Pomeroy's ratings:
353. Florida A&M
352. Delaware State
351. Alabama A&M
350. Coppin State
349. Jackson State
• Top five "over" teams in last five seasons (min. 100 lined games):
1. Wofford 66-39-2
2. Samford 62-37-2
3. Oral Roberts 67-40-0
4. Richmond 70-42-1
5. George Mason 67-42-0
• Top five "under" teams in last five seasons (min. 100 lined games):
1. Saint Mary's 40-73-2
2. VMI 33-51-1
3. Virginia 50-76-2
4. Texas 48-71-2
5. Pittsburgh 46-68-0
• College basketball D-I average combined PPG by season [ESPN Stats & Information]:
• Teams expected to play fast [per Kenpom.com's Adjusted Tempo (possessions per 40 minutes)]:
• Teams expected to play slow [per Kenpom.com's Adjusted Tempo (possessions per 40 minutes)]:
• Favorites are 1,661-1,502-71 against the spread in November over the last five seasons.
• Xavier is 23-9 ATS in November over the last five seasons. Villanova: 20-8-1 ATS, UMass: 17-7-1
• Cal State-Northridge is 6-23 ATS in November over last five years. Santa Clara: 7-22-3 ATS, Illinois-Chicago: 6-18 ATS, James Madison: 8-19 ATS, Ohio State: 9-17 ATS.
• Unders are 1,421-1,269-35 in November over the last five seasons, by far the best month of the college basketball season for unders.
• Eighteen of Old Dominion's 23 games in November over the last five seasons have gone under the total. Cincinnati: 3-13 (over/under), Illinois: 6-16, Evansville: 3-13-1, Bradley: 6-16.
• Twenty of Niagara's 24 games in November over the last five seasons have gone over the total. Marquette: 19-10 (over/under), Ball State: 13-4-2, Utah 15-6, Virginia Tech: 15-7.
Talking CBB futures with a Vegas oddsmaker
Two questions with Las Vegas oddsmaker Aaron Kessler, a manager and oddsmaker for the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas, who enjoys identifying potential value in college basketball long shots:
Q: What is your strategy to betting college basketball futures?
Kessler: In my opinion, college hoops is the one sport where you can make a big run with a triple-digit priced team. The pro sports, only the worst of the bad teams are 100-1 or greater -- and college football is so top-heavy, and Bama's going to win anyways.
Odds move slowly early on (in college basketball), so if you can identify teams early, you can map out points where you'll strike at a) a certain price or b) the current price, if they win a given spot. Know what teams you think are undervalued, either because they're better than perceived or because they have a schedule that will allow them to get a good seed (in the NCAA tournament).
Sometimes I'll even spot a game on the schedule that I expect a team to lose, and I'll wait to bet them until after that game, especially if they put on a quality performance in defeat.
Defense generally carries more weight with me than offense, because "defense doesn't slump." This year, I'm definitely a little more offense-heavy though -- the market seems to be embracing defense a little more.
I don't pay a lot of attention to coaching, but I will look for a coach in his second (or even third) year of a major stylistic transition.
Q: Your five official plays you released on Twitter -- Marquette (200-1), TCU (150-1), St. Louis (750-1), Mississippi State (100-1) and Iowa State (300-1) -- are all pretty big long shots. Why do you target long shots?
Kessler: Program pedigree doesn't matter to me. If a major conference team is outperforming its historical place in the hierarchy, there's a good chance I'll land on them. There's a group of about 15 teams I'll never have a future on, because they'll always be hyped.
I rarely bet mid-majors at anything other than 500-1 or higher. The smaller conference teams won't be higher than a 5/6 at best, and the Gonzagas/Nevadas won't be tested by the week in/week out grind.
At 300-1 and up, it's hard to make a bad bet on a team that will get in (the tournament). If you're building a portfolio, and you can get a team at 300-1 that's projecting at 11-7 in a power conference ... why not? Obviously trust your own analysis. This happened to me with Clemson last year -- I personally didn't like them at all, but they were 500-1 and I didn't see a path for them to miss the tourney; they ended up a 5 seed.