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College Hoops Top 25: Overrated and Underrated
by Scott Spreitzer - 02/22/2011
The college basketball Top 25 poll is certainly fun to look at and make your own judgments. But the fact is any ranking has just as
much to do with politics and name recognition than it does with hoops prowess.
What's more important for bettors is to examine Las Vegas power rankings. After all, Vegas makes numbers on every game and those
numbers are backed not by publicity, politics or public perception, but by money.
Each week, we’ll take a look at the Top 25 polls and expose where the rankings went wrong and where college hoops bettors can find
hidden value in these big-name programs, either betting on or against them:
MOST OVERRATED TOP-25 TEAM: LOUISVILLE (20-7; 13-10-1)
The Cardinals are this week's most overrated team. Then again, after this past weekend's college basketball results,
we saw what I have been saying all season. March Madness is going to be as open as it has ever been. Most top-10
teams could be knocked out of the Dance by the sweet-16 as easily as they could advance to the Final Four. Louisville gets the nod
this week due in part to their mediocre road record. The Cardinals are just 3-5 SU, 4-4 ATS on the road, going 1-5 SU
in their last six. While Louisville averages 76.2 ppg on the season overall, they have averaged just 62.6 ppg in regulation
in their last five road games. The Cards rarely get to the free throw line, averaging less than 14 FT attempts per game
in their last five contests. They're simply not drawing fouls. But that could change on Tuesday night. Louisville's "bigs"
will face a Rutgers squad that's a bit foul prone inside. If the Cardinals can't get to the line in this one, it will be a telling
story and something to remember for the postseason. The AP has Louisville ranked 16th. I rate them 26th. After a crazy
weekend of CBB, I believe Louisville is this week's most overrated top-25 team.
MOST UNDERRATED TOP-25 TEAM: NORTH CAROLINA (20-6; 12-11)
The Tar Heels rank 19th this week. I have them ranked as the 11th best team in the nation according to my power rankings.
The Heels have been a different team since the youngsters started "growing up." This is the second time this season that
UNC has rated as my most underrated team. They broke back into the top-25 a few weeks ago, but have been stuck near
the bottom of the rankings. Their only loss in their last eight games came on the road, a 79-73 loss at this week's #1 team
in the nation, Duke. That's hardly a loss that should keep this team down. The Heels actually led Duke by 14 points at the half,
but couldn't hold on. The Heels began the season a young team, but three underclassmen have truly found their confidence and
comfort zone. UNC ranks 27th in scoring averaging 77.1 ppg. They're 2nd in the nation averaging over 42 rpg, with a +9 rpg
advantage. Meanwhile, the Heels are 21st in the nation, holding opponents to less than 40% shooting. UNC doesn't have an
easy slate to close the regular season. They play in Raleigh on Wednesday, then wrap things up with a home date with
Maryland, a road game at Florida State, then the big rematch with Duke in Chapel Hill. Eight current players average in
double-figures in minutes played per game. I expect the UNC bench to be a big factor in March. North Carolina is this week's
Most Underrated ranked team.
TEAM THAT DESERVES TO BE RANKED: GEORGE MASON (23-5; 21-5)
George Mason has been a serious money-maker this season, going 21-5 ATS. They just came from behind to knock off Northern Iowa
on the road. I expect the Patriots to be a "player" in March. This team is getting it done on both ends of the floor. Jim Larranaga's squad
scores an average of 74.4 ppg, ranking 15th in FG shooting (48.1%) and 13th in 3-point shooting (40.2%). They're just as strong on
defense where they allow just 61.6 ppg. George Mason allows teams to make just 40.5% of their FG attempts, including the nation's
23rd best 3-point defense, allowing just 30.7% to the opposition. This deep squad puts four players in double-figures in scoring per game.
And nine players average at least 9 minutes played per contest. The Patriots have won 13 games in a row and should finish the regular
season on a 15 game win streak with games against Northeastern and Georgia State to close the campaign. George Mason ranks
17th in my power ratings and they are this week's team that deserves to be in the AP Top-25.