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NCAA BB : Teams under the radar
NCAA BB : Teams under the radar
Teams under the radar
The college basketball season has just tipped off and meaningful games are right around the corner. That makes this the ideal time to preview a couple teams that might present some early line value this season. The two teams we are previewing below each finished with very sub-par results in the 2006-07 season. That means these teams may fly under the radar when the reality is that they are poised for bounce back seasons in 2007-08.
The Utes have not dropped completely off the map of late, but they have gotten dangerously close after going just 11-19 last season. It wasn't that long ago that Utah was playing in the Final Four and now they are looking to regain some of the magic of the late nineties.
Jim Boylen begins his first year as head coach and he inherits a veteran roster, but one that is not very deep. The Utes return four starters from last year, and they are headlined by preseason first team All-Mountain West Conference selection Luke Nevill. Nevill returns after leading the team in scoring last season with 16.8 points per game. Nevill also averaged a team high 7.7 rebounds per game.
Joining the returning four starters will be junior college recruit, point guard Tyler Kepkay. Kepkay was the top junior college scorer last year as he averaged 27.9 points per game. He also shot 47 percent from three-point range, and that will fit in very nicely with his new teammates. His perimeter scoring will be a welcome addition to a team that has enjoyed recent success from beyond the arc.
Utah was sixth in the nation last season from three point land and they look to be just as deadly from behind the arc this season. This should mean even more opportunities for Nevill and company inside.
As we mentioned, this is Boylen's first year and he will bring with him many of the same tough defensive principles he learned at Michigan State under Tom Izzo. That will not only turn heads in the Mountain West, it will also make this squad even more complete and help them pick up extra wins along the way.
We feel the transformation in Waco is complete as head coach Scott Drew enters his fifth season at Baylor after taking over a program that could not have been in worse shape after a murder scandal rocked the program. Drew has completely rebuilt the program from the ground up, and will now see the fruits of his labor as this team will make some noise in the Big 12 conference.
The Bears return all five starters from last year's team that went 15-16 overall and just 4-12 in the Big 12. Despite having all five starters and a total of nine letterman back, the Bears were picked to finish ninth in this year's preseason conference poll. That should be plenty of motivation as conference play begins.
Baylor will be very strong in the back court led by All-Big 12 preseason selection Curtis Jerrells, who averaged 15 points per game. The front court should be improved as 7-footer Mamadou Diene looks to be healthy and will cause serious match-up problems while opening up the outside game.
Baylor also had the opportunity to get a jump start on practice, as they were together as a team for 10 days in August preparing for exhibition games in Mexico. It is a long season, but any opportunity to get a jump on the competition is a welcome one!
We certainly are not telling you to look for the Utes or the Bears to be cutting down the nets in April. However, we are telling you that value in sports gaming is where others often tend to overlook. In our opinion, these two sub .500 teams from last season are destined for improvement and those are the kind of teams you want to be backing with your hard-earned money. We believe these two clubs are going to be undervalued (at least early on) and that can lead to some great line value opportunities for you to cash in on.