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Inside Scoop on College Hoop Totals

   by Bryan Leonard - 01/31/2007

Off the top of your head, give me a quick answer to this college basketball question: When you think of defending national champion Florida, would you classify the Gators as a defensive-oriented team, or a wide-open, run-and-gun team?

The answer is easy: They run. That's not surprising, as Billy Donovan is a great recruiter, stockpiling McDonald's All Americans each season, bloating their depth. Sports bettors should notice that Florida started this season 10-4 over the total. Their wide-open running offense (83 ppg) and capacity for nailing three-pointers is a key factor in this correlation.

Naturally, coaching philosophies are tied into this, as well as personnel. Certain coaches prefer the uptempo game, like Gonzaga's Mark Few, Donovan, Roy Williams and Coach K at Duke. Out West, Washington of the Pac 10 continues to run and gun, averaging 82 ppg, and they are 12-6 over the total. A coach needs the proper personnel to run his style, and the ability to teach to get the most out of those players.

Another factor to consider is public perception. Oddsmakers generally know the styles of play, but sometimes coaches and personnel change, and other times oddsmakers are slow to adjust. Southern Illinois of the Missouri Valley Conference plays a ferocious, aggressive defensive style. Last season the Salukis were 20-13 under the total, including 15 in a row that went under! They are still a strong defensive team, but in a sense the value for betting them under is gone as they have been better at going over the total this season as oddsmakers have caught up.

With big-name schools, public perception comes into play. The general betting public thinks of Bobby Knight's Texas Tech team and Rick Pitino's Louisville squad as explosive offensive teams because of those coaches. They have been in the past, yet for the second straight season, they just don't have the offensive personnel. Texas Tech has been a better play under the total, while Louisville is 10-6 under.

Other coaches prefer a slow down or all-out defensive approach. One of the best the last two seasons has been LSU, with Big Daddy Glen Davis blocking shots in the low post. LSU was 22-10 under the total last season and 13-5 under this year!

Temple under Jon Chaney used to be like that, while nobody likes to play Air Force of the Mountain West Conference with its strangling defense, as well as Northwestern and Wisconsin, two Big 10 teams with defensive reputations.

Another one is Dave Odom's South Carolina squad. This is a team that consistently plays great defense, especially at home. Notice that South Carolina was 10-4 under the total at home last season and is 10-5 under overall this year (and 6-2 under at home). Coaching strategies, personnel, home/road play and even reputations need to be examined when assessing college basketball over/under spots. Learn to get down when the value is present, and when to get off when oddsmakers catch up.

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