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Overrated/Underrated on the College Hardwood

   by ASA - 02/20/2008

The much-used phrase, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression,â€쳌 rings true in many walks of life and college basketball isn’t exempt. A fast start to the season will put a team in the good graces of bettors through much of the season while a slow start will send a team to the doghouse for the remainder of the year.



That doesn’t have to be the case in either instance, though, as quick-starting teams can falter while slow-starting teams can rebound. Here are three examples each of teams that are underrated and overrated based solely on the first few months of the season:



Underrated

Temple – Xavier pretty much has the regular-season Atlantic 10 crown wrapped up but Temple is making a run at claiming second place. While teams like Dayton, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have had their moments, it’s the Owls that look like the best competition to St. Joe’s for the league’s second-best record. Temple is 7-3 SU and ATS in its last 10 outings and has already posted wins over Xavier, Rhode Island and UMass. The Owls are 9-3 ATS in their last 12 games and a favorable schedule over the next week bodes well for their chances at second place in the A-10.



Wake Forest – Wake may have lost some of its under-the-radar appeal following its 13-point upset of Duke but it’s still an underrated squad. The ACC has been waiting for teams to step up to claim the spots directly behind Duke and North Carolina and the Demon Deacons have been up to the task. They have won three straight games outright and are 9-2 ATS over their last 11 contests. Wake has excelled in the underdog role, going 7-1 ATS and winning three of those games outright. The young Deacons could be even more dangerous next year.



Hofstra – A tough non-conference schedule and a slow start to the Colonial Athletic Association season quickly put the Pride in the hole. It has been an extremely tough hole to dig out of but Hofstra is gradually getting back to ground level. It is 6-4 SU over its last 10 outings, including impressive road wins over Drexel, Northeastern and James Madison as 4.5 to 7.5-point dogs. Senior guard Antoine Agudio has been the barometer of Hofstra’s success. He has averaged 28.2 points per game in Hofstra’s last five wins so if he has a favorable matchup, strongly consider the Pride.



Overrated

Dayton – Dayton, unlike fellow A-10 member Temple, looked like a legitimate conference contender during non-conference action. The Flyers started the season 14-1 with numerous impressive non-conference wins but injuries have slowed them down considerably. They are just 3-6 SU and 2-7 ATS in their last nine games, scoring just 63.4 points per game over that stretch. Dayton has been especially shaky on the road lately, dropping four straight outright and ATS and losing by 11.5 points per game. The Flyers need a big push down the stretch if they want to contend for the Big Dance but three road contests over their next five could derail those aspirations.



Arkansas-Little Rock – The Trojans appeared to be among the Sun Belt’s elite through the end of January. They were 8-3 in non-conference action and 6-3 in Sun Belt play heading into their final game of January. Recent struggles have eliminated any chances of Little Rock claiming the conference crown. It is 1-4 SU in its last five and has failed to cover any of its last six contests. The losses have not been pretty either as the Trojans have lost their last four games by 13.8 points per game. An inconsistent offense has been the culprit as Little Rock has scored 47 or fewer points in three of its last five games.



San Diego State – The young Aztecs, who have no seniors among their top eight players, surprised everyone, including themselves, when they went 14-4 to start the year, including a 4-0 mark in Mountain West play. San Diego State has since hit the wall and it hit hard. The Aztecs are just 2-5 SU and 3-4 ATS in their last seven games with their only wins during that stretch coming against Air Force and Colorado State, which are a combined 5-16 in MWC action. Games against conference-leading BYU and UNLV over the next week could spell the end to San Diego State.

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