Top 20 CBKB February 2018 Bust Out Teams
This article projects 20 teams from each of 20 conferences that I predict will outperform their January conference record to date. That does not mean I will be recommending a play on these teams in every contest in the next month. What it does mean is that through the combination of factors I denote in each thumbnail sketch of these teams I believe they have underperformed my predictions to date and are due for a huge Bust Out February. The record for each team is for conference play only.
AAC – Temple 3-6 SU, 4-5 ATS
The Owls currently sit mired in 10th place in this league ahead of only ECU and UCF. My opinion is they are better than this. Wins over Auburn, Clemson, South Carolina, and Wisconsin justify my opinion. Issue is that they have played to the level of competition. With many lower echelon teams on the schedule and Dunphy’s record of 47-27 as road chalk look for some good spots on the road to back the Owls in the next 4 weeks.
ACC – North Carolina 5-4 SU, 2-6 ATS
It is agreed that with less interior presence and less defensive excellence that the Tar Heels will unlikely be defending their National Title. Currently however, they are in the mix of no fewer than 8 teams in in the middle of the ACC. At this writing they come off consecutive losses to VA Tech and NC State. With NC clearly underperforming in January I’m looking for pointspread power in the weeks ahead.
A10 – Saint Bonnie 4-4 SU, 3-5 ATS
With a pair of explosive, experienced guards in Adams and Mobley, I am still scratching my head that this team lost road games to Dayton, St Joe’s and Davidson. I feel certain the cream will rise to the top resulting in a #2 finish in the league. They will pass 4 teams ahead of them (Duquesne, Davidson, Richmond, and VCU) to garner that spot.
Big East – Butler 5-4 SU, 5-4 ATS
There is plenty of power among the top 7 members of the Big East. Perhaps 1st year HC Lavall Jordan is having issues his first time through the league. Losses have come on the road at Xavier, Creighton and Providence. Along with a home loss to Hall. Currently residing in 6th place I believe the Bulldogs have the greatest potential upside from a pointspread perspective in the next 4 weeks. Hinkle F. H. is a powerful alley.
Big 10 – Maryland 4-6 SU, 5-5 ATS
It would be easy to make this a Nebraska call. But the shine is already off that rose. Rather I will call for a Maryland team who has done an outstanding job compensating for the loss of 2 of their Best Boys. Just prior to January 1st, HC Turgeon has repeatedly stated he believes his team has great upside. Turgeon has long been an outstanding play following a defeat and is 4-0 ATS following a loss in the month of January. Play accordingly.
Big 12 – TCU 3-5 SU, 5-3 ATS
Jamie Dixon has 5 returning starters from a 24 win NIT Championship team. After a 12-0 SU start his Frogs have 6 losses all by 5 or less points. But they have bounced back with pointspread victory following each of those defeats. The Big 12 may be the toughest league in the Nation, and TCU won’t catch Kansas, but they are good enough to get to the upper echelon.
Big West – Cal Santa Barbara 5-2 SU, 3-3 ATS
Maybe I am asking you to come to this party a little too late. After a 6-22 SU season of 2016, 1st year HC Pasternack (Arizona) immediately turned around the Gauchos fortunes. Through January they were 9-2 ATS covering the number by 79 NET points. Now tied atop the Big West with Long Beach, Davis and Hawaii (all with 2 losses) I expect it will be Santa Barbara who emerges from the pack with the regular season title.
Colonial – Towson 5-5 SU, 5-5 ATS
You can throw a blanket over the top 6 teams in the Colonial as their power ratings are within 5 points of one another. With 4 RS from a 20 win team Pat Skerry’s Tigers looked like they would be leading the hunt with a 10-3 SU non-con slate. Losses out of the gate at COC and Elon brought the Tigers back to earth. But the combination of their experience, the coaching of Skerry and a +5.5 Net Rebound Margin and 41% defense likely means they will be outperforming the beat down expectations in the next month.
CUSA – LA Tech 4-5 SU, 3-6 ATS
CUSA is a conference of “have’s” and “have nots”. LA Tech is included among the 6 quality teams which are MTSU, W. KY, ODU, UAB and Marshall. The Bulldogs underperformance to date is mystifying. This team has won 23 or more games in each of the last 5 years, including a 23-10 SU record (14-4 SU in Sun Belt play) last year. 3rd year HC Konkol was again picked to challenge for the top honors. LA Tech has struggled badly in January, including a 0-6 ATS run. That schedule has been front loaded to have them visit Western Kentucky, Marshall, MTSU and UAB the first time through the loop. What do you think happens in the 2nd meet revenge games when those teams come to the Thomas Assembly Center where LA Tech is currently on a run of 49-5 SU?
Horizon – Oakland 6-4 SU, 3-7 ATS
With Valpo departing for the Valley, Oakland was slated to outlast N. KY and Wright to garner the top spot in the league. Viewing the numbers for the first time through the loop you might say, “Oops!” But there is still time. Note that they have already faced N. KY and Wright 4 times this season, leaving them to be a hungry team who will play the remainder of their games as the favored team. With 3 of the best players in the league, led by transfer Nunn, and the veteran coaching of Kampe it certainly would not be a surprise to see the Grizz “win out” putting themselves in strong position for the upcoming CCT.
Ivy League – Yale 2-2 SU, 2-2 ATS
Yeah, I got it. The season has hardly begun, yet I am calling for a breakout team. The Eli were dealt a serious blow with the loss of Mason (perhaps the best player in the league) and Bruner, before the ball even went in the air in November. Through 4 games however, the Eli trail undefeated Harvard and Penn by 2 games in the loss column. What will not be factored in is the coaching of 19th year HC Jones who has by far and away the best ATS numbers in the league. Expect the Eli’s strong fundamental work ethic and defensive effort to have them exceeding expectations in the Brain Chain.
MAAC – Monmouth 3-6 SU, 3-6 ATS
Last year’s regular season champion at 18-2 SU in the league, returns just 1 starter from that 27 win NIT team. Yet the coaching of 7th year King Rice and a strong history of road success led the Hawks to be picked as the closest challenger to Iona for conference superiority. Injuries have been a negative factory but they are also 0-5 ATS on the conference trail. As the value begins to move their way and they return to health, I’m looking for a big pointspread performance by Monmouth in the month of February.
MAC – Buffalo 8-0 SU, 7-0 ATS
I know! Hardly a team which one would characterize as a team to Bust Out from the middle of the pack in the coming month. The Bulls however, have no choice but to continue their obliteration of an otherwise less than mediocre loop. The MAC has long been a one bid league, meaning that should the Bulls stub their toe in the CCT it will be imperative that every other victory be of monumental proportion to get the bubble bid.
Missouri Valley – Northern Iowa 3-7 SU, 3-6 ATS
Loy-Chi has busted out from the pack in the Valley. The remaining 9 teams have power ratings that are within 6 points of each other. My choice for Bust Out team is a Northern Iowa Panther, who even with Wichita State in the league perennially contended for the title. Again this year the defense is fantastic at 63/41. With plenty of revenge opportunities ahead and a McLeod Center home court where they are 43-11 SU L4Y, I believe there will be some great opportunities to avenge 4 road losses.
Mountain West – San Diego State 4-4 SU, 5-3 ATS
In the 1st year of the Brian Dutcher regime (long time HC Fisher aide) the Aztecs were predicted to rebound from their 6th place MWC finish of last year. Yet here we are at the halfway point with SD State in 8th place in the league. Dutcher has opened up the offense to 79 PPG. There are still positive RAT numbers in every category and the D is still allowing just 69/42. In short I am a bit mystified at 5 league losses to date. Trust the fundamentals to lead to success, along with revenge opportunities, particular at Viejas (though catching Nevada and Boise seems unlikely).
Pac 12 – Utah 5-5 SU, 6-4 ATS
The Conference of Champions is notably underperforming from top to bottom. More was expected from virtually every team. That means plenty of opportunities for success in the 2nd half. I will favor middle of the pack Utah who has already begun their ascent with a 4-0 ATS mark, including a 1 point defeat at Arizona Saturday night. Larry K is outstanding on his home court, especially so when playing with revenge. Expect Utah who annually finds a way to win 20+ games to be in the mix at the top of the conference once the CCT rolls around.
SEC – LSU 3-5 SU, 4-4 ATS
Little was expected of an LSU team who was just 2-16 SU in the SEC LY. It would be an arduous task for 1st year HC Wade (VCU) to move this 10 win team of last season to the plus side of the ledger. A Saturday night blowout loss at Auburn is no shame. There have already been road wins at A&M and Ark. Before that every league loss was by single digits. Love the coaching job that Wade has done and the 48% shooting. Now standing in a tie for 9th place in a league where 12 teams are within 6 points, I cast my vote for LSU to have a Bust Out February.
Southern Conference – Mercer 3-6 SU, 3-6 ATS
The going will certainly be tougher for the Bears now that Holland (wrist) is out indefinitely. But I still trust the coaching of 10th year headman Hoffman. At the start of the year 5 RS were a reason why many pundits predicted the Bears to capture SoCon honors. Currently they stand in 7th place after losing to lowly Citadel. Now that their rating has been beaten down it is time to look for the Bears to bounce back.
Sun Belt – Texas Arlington 4-6 SU, 4-6 ATS
With the best inside/outside tandem in the league in Hervey and Neal, the Movin’ Mavs were expected to repeat as Sun Belt champs this year, perhaps even exceeding their 27 wins of last. This last weekend with the opportunity to get back in the hunt the Mavs, a great road team under 13th year HC Cross, fell flat on their face with losses at GA State and GA Southern. A major issue is the fact they are turning the ball over nearly 16 times per game. Not sure where there collective heads are as we close January. But they are certainly more talented than the current tie for 6th place.
West Coast Conference– Pacific 5-5 SU, 6-2 ATS
We all know that Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s will battle for WCC superiority and that BYU will be a notch below those 2 but notably above the other 7 teams. The question becomes, “who is the best of the rest?” My vote for February Bust Out team is a Pacific Tiger team under 2nd year HC Stoudamire who began their own party after a 33 point conference opening loss at Gonzaga. Since that time Tigers are 8-1 ATS, only failure at BYU. With a far better attitude than the league’s 9th place team of last year, who won a total of only 11 games, there is still plenty of opportunity to ride this train against no fewer than 3 cellar dwellers (Port, Loy-Mary, Pepper) who figure to have tossed the towel till the CCT.
January 30, 2018