HomeCollege BasketballCollege Basketball Teams to Watch: Fade/Follow Edition

    College Basketball Teams to Watch: Fade/Follow Edition

    Conference play is chugging along and there are some teams that have gotten off to rough starts and others that have overachieved. Adam Burke lists four of them here.

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    College basketball teams and conference play notes

    The college basketball season is rolling right along and we’ve got about two months until the NCAA Tournament tips off in Dayton. College basketball picks and predictions can be found in a lot of places, including my article Tuesday through Saturday at VSiN, but what about something that may have a little more of a shelf life with some college basketball teams to watch?

    Injury information can be really hard to find in small conferences, so there will be college basketball teams to fade/follow based on who gets hurt and who returns, but we can also use the stats to point towards some interesting potential trends.

     

    Let’s start with the glass half-empty and check out a fade list before looking at some teams to follow.

    Fade Teams

    Rice Owls: Rice is already 0-4 in conference play and Bart Torvik has their conference strength of schedule ranked 12th out of 14 teams heading into Saturday’s game against a pretty subpar Temple team.

    Here’s what scares me about Rice moving forward. They moved into the American Athletic Conference (AAC) after being a member of Conference USA, so it was a step up in class, especially with the top teams from C-USA also making the leap. But, more importantly, they’re awful on defense.

    In four conference games, Rice has allowed 1.265 (Tulane), 1.155 (UTSA), 1.130 (South Florida), and 1.270 (Charlotte) points per possession. Entering play on Thursday, Rice ranked 313th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency per Torvik and 321st in eFG%.

    They still haven’t faced Florida Atlantic (Jan. 24), Memphis (Jan. 31), SMU (Feb. 7), or North Texas (Mar. 9), who are the four best teams in the conference. Tulane, who has the third-best offensive efficiency for the season out of AAC programs, beat them by 25. You may start to see some big prices to fade Rice, but they may be worth laying against the conference’s best teams.

    Wofford Terriers: The degree of difficulty steps up for Wofford in a big way beginning Saturday. The next five games for the Terriers are UNC Greensboro, Chattanooga, Furman, Samford, and Western Carolina. As it stands, Wofford is off to a 4-1 start in SoCon play, but inferior teams have taken them to the wire. 

    They beat VMI by two in overtime and the Keydets are one of the nation’s worst teams. In other home tilts, they beat Mercer by one and East Tennessee State by two. They narrowly beat The Citadel on the road by a point.

    Those five teams on the upcoming schedule are vastly better than the four teams they’ve beaten and every SoCon team has scored at least 1.027 points per possession on the Terriers defense. This is still a good offense, but a putrid defense and it will be harder to outscore some of the opponents on the horizon.

    Follow Teams

    San Diego Toreros: San Diego got very close to making the cut for me as a play on Thursday, but the status of leading scorer Deuce Turner was a little murky. San Diego began WCC play with Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga, San Francisco, and Pepperdine. On the whole, this is a good conference, but SMC, Zaga, and USF are brutal out of the gate and the Toreros, minus Turner, ran out of gas late against Pepperdine.

    Those games sustained an offensive lull that began in mid-December, but my belief is that Steve Lavin will figure things out. Better health would help, as some guys have been in and out or battling ailments. This is a team that gets inside at a good rate and shoots the 3 well, despite a low percentage of 3-point attempts. As the schedule ramps down, they may be a little undervalued.

    UTEP Miners: UTEP is a team that made the cut for me on Thursday as a favorite against Middle Tennessee. Miners games are like watching a pinball machine, with turnovers going both ways and not a ton of structure. However, outside of FIU, who UTEP lost to by four points earlier this week, no other team in the conference has a TO% north of 20% on defense. 

    UTEP also recently got back talented freshman Trey Horton for a little more scoring punch and he went into Thursday’s game with 25 points in 36 minutes in his two 2024 games. Conference USA got watered down with realignment and I think that could be to UTEP’s benefit moving forward here, especially if they can win the possession battle from a turnover margin standpoint.

    Adam Burke
    Adam Burke
    Adam Burke is the Managing Editor of VSiN.com and has spent well over a decade in the sports betting content creation space. He has been with VSiN since 2021 and covers a wide range of sports, along with hosting the VSiN Daily Baseball Bets podcast.

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