Monday , Jan , 15 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

College Hoops Conference Road Play

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – How can bettors get an edge in college
basketball with so many conference games coming their way? Many teams have a
decided homecourt advantage, but the pointspread has a way of evening things
out. For example, Villanova finished 7-1 SU last year at home versus the Big
East but only 3-5 ATS. Interestingly enough, the Wildcats also were 7-1 SU and
3-5 ATS in conference road play.

There is quite a difference between playing at home and playing on the road,
and the Big Ten is a perfect example. It proved to be the toughest conference
to win away from home in the 2005-06 season. Michigan State went 6-2 SU and
5-3 ATS at home, but only 2-6 SU and ATS on the road. The Buckeyes and the
Fighting Illini were the only schools that were 4-4 or better SU away
from home.

The Big Tens road winning percentage was 29.5%. Ohio State was the only
school that finished above .500 both SU and ATS. The Big East and ACC each had
road SU winning percentages of 37.5%, the SEC was at 39.6% and the Big 12 was
at 33%.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Pac-10 was a much easier conference to
win away from home. The road team won an exceptional 43% of league games. When
betting games this season, its extremely important to pay attention to
conference stats and to keep track of important information.


How do all these numbers play into ATS records? Its very common for a road
team to have a better ATS than SU record. Eleven of the 16 Big East schools
did just that, while eight of the 12 ACC teams had a superior ATS mark than
their SU record. However, only one club in the top six conferences (SEC,
Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-10, ACC and Big East) ended up over .500 SU and still had
a better ATS record in league road play. I’ll have the answer at the end of
the column.

Since the Big Ten had the worst SU record at 29.5%, it would make sense that
the league would finish at the bottom against the spread. And it did. The
conference was 36-49-3 ATS for a winning percentage of 43. Four teams
(Wisconsin, Michigan State, Indiana and Iowa) combined for a 7-25
ATS record on the road, while Purdue finished 4-3-1 ATS despite a 0-8 SU mark!

Two other clubs were winless on the road in conference play, yet dominated
against the spread. Georgia Tech and South Florida combined to go 0-16 SU in
their respective leagues, yet were 12-4 ATS. The Bulls routinely were getting
double-digits against Big East super-powers and hung close to cover the spread
in most games.

However, being a league doormat doesn’t automatically make that team a money-
making ATS machine. Wake Forest, Mississippi State and Baylor were all winless
and combined for a losing ATS record at 10-14.

The two conferences that had the most SU success also were tops against the
spread. The road teams in the SEC and Pac-10 combined to hit on 57% ATS.
Betting road clubs down south was easy money as only one SEC squad, Ole Miss,
finished below .500 ATS.

Two other conferences were over .500 as the Big East finished at 55% and the
ACC ended up at 53%. The Big 12, like the Big Ten, was below .500 at 48%.


Illinois was 15-10 ATS last season. Two years ago, the Illini went 12-9-2.
What has happened in Champaign in 06-07? Illinois is currently 2-12 ATS,
and Bruce Webers club has failed to cover its last 10.

Were Dee Brown and James Augustine THAT important to the success of the team?
Apparently so! The Illini have opened the Big Ten season at 1-3 SU and already
have lost six games, one less than all of last year.

Illinois travels to Minnesota this Wednesday night to face another club that
has struggled. All five starters from last year are gone and so is coach Dan
Monson. The Gophers are the only Big Ten team that is below .500 at 7-10, but
they’ve split their last six games.

The Big Ten was the most dominant home conference last year, so this contest
will be a good test to see if that trend holds true. Minnesota is already 1-0
SU and ATS at home after having stopped Purdue as a home dog back on January


Virginia Commonwealth finished 19-10 last season but only sixth in the very
competitive CAA. George Mason stunned the country with its magical run to the
Final Four, while UNC Wilmington also made the field of 64. Some would say
that Hofstra deserved to go as well.

VCU went out and hired one of Billy Donovans assistants, Anthony Grant, as
its new head coach. All the Rams have done this year is win 14 of their first
17 games, losing the three contests by a grand total of seven points. They
currently are undefeated and in first place in the conference at 6-0.

One aspect of their play that has given them a decided edge in OVER/UNDERS has
been an up-tempo style brought over from Coach Grants days at Florida. VCU
has gone over the number in six of its last seven games. Not only are the Rams
going OVER, they are obliterating the total. Three of their last five contests
have seen the combined final score in the 160s, while the total was listed
between 125 and 136. This is something to keep an eye on as the season

Trivia answer: Kentucky. The Wildcats were 5-3 SU and a very impressive 6-1-1
ATS away from home in conference play.