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If you're been following along, you know my affinity for the little guys. And I am not even just talking the mid-majors, but even the lower depths of Division I college hoops. The teams no one pays much mind. It is sad, too, as they play just as good a brand of basketball as the big guys. This past weekend I took my two sons to check out last season's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion Norfolk State, as they took on big fish N.C. State. While the Spartans never really had much of a chance heading into the second half, it was cool seeing a team in person which made so much history in the NCAA Tournament last season. Remember, they're one of just a handful of 15-seeds to upend a 2-seed in the big dance.
A few of the teams we've mentioned here have done pretty well lately. Appalachian State (2-7 SU, 6-0 ATS) won outright for just the second time this season Sunday at Missouri-Kansas City. More importantly, they covered a big number, and are now a whopping 6-0 ATS. Remember the Mountaineers when they head down to Columbia to battle South Carolina in their next game. Illinois-Chicago (9-1 SU, 8-1 ATS) also kept it rolling with a blowout win over visiting Eastern Michigan, keeping their impressive streak of making money alive. Lastly, the Summit League's IUPUI Jaguars (4-9 SU, 0-9 ATS) were drilled over the weekend by visiting Indiana State, and have now failed to cover in 10 straight games dating back to last season.
Creighton (10-1 SU, 8-1 ATS): The Blue Jays are certainly not a surprise, as far as their ranking and success in the Missouri Valley Conference. They have won 10 of their first 11 games outright. What might come as a surprise is their success against the spread, as they have covered eight of their nine games this season, including each of their past four overall. The only time Creighton failed to cover was a shocking 13-point loss in Omaha against visiting Boise State (7-2 SU, 5-3 ATS), which is no embarrassment considering how well the Broncos have been playing. The 13th-ranked Blue Jays have only one game in the upcoming scoring period, but they'll be heavily favored and are worth a look at home in a game they should win handily.
This week: Tulsa, Wednesday
Drexel (3-7 SU, 1-8 ATS): The Dragons have endeared themselves to bettors over the past couple of years by serving as that underrated, sleeper team. However, this season they have simply been asleep, failing to cover in eight of their nine games against the number. If you need good news, the over has come through in each of their two games which have had a total. The Dragons have been a bad team, not even coming close in three of their past four games. They did win outright Dec. 8 at Princeton, covering a six-point number. But that performance is an anomaly, and the Tigers do not play particularly well when playing from behind anyway. This week, Drexel will face a very difficult test at home, and one they are not likely to come close to passing.
This week: Davidson, Saturday
Marshall (6-5 SU, 0-7-1 ATS): While the Thundering Herd has been a fairly competitive bunch this season, when it comes to covering, they are a complete disaster. Straight up at home, the Herd is 5-0, making Huntington a difficult place to come in and play. However, visitors have kept it close, going 2-0-1 ATS. For whatever reason, the lines have been pumped up at home for the Herd, and Marshall hasn't even come close to cover in the past two home games. This week they have a home game against Savannah State, and the Herd should be heavily favored. Then, the Herd hits the road for a game at Rupp Arena in Lexington. That one could turn very ugly.
This week: Savannah State, Wednesday; at Kentucky, Saturday
Massachusetts (5-3 SU, 1-7 ATS): Like Marshall above, the Minutemen are not a horrible team, they just never cover. This past weekend we made some money picking against UMass, as visiting Elon (6-4 SU, 4-2 ATS) took their to overtime and nearly won outright. (The Elon team has been a good play, too, by the way. Remember them.) Anyway, UMass will take on an Ohio University (7-3 SU, 5-2 ATS) that had success in last season's NCAA Tournament, and has carried that momentum into the early portion of this season. However, playing on the road in Amherst, you might be able to get a very good number. Ohio is covering, UMass is not. Remember that. The Minutemen are 0-3 ATS at home so far.
This week: Ohio, Wednesday; East Carolina, Saturday
St. Peter's (4-5 SU, 4-0-1 ATS): Anyone who has followed me knows that I enjoy betting the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) rather frequently. Canisius (6-2 SU, 4-1 ATS), Niagara (5-6 SU, 2-5 ATS) and Siena (2-9 SU, 1-6 ATS) are teams to play particularly close mind to. Add in the Peacocks of St. Peter's, too. A few years ago they were betting gold, going 15-6-1 ATS back during the 2008-09 season despite an 11-19 SU record. Sometimes, a team doesn't necessarily have to be 'good' overall to be a 'good' bet. For whatever reason, St. Peter's just doesn't get respect from Vegas. In 2010-11, St. Peter's was 20-14 SU, and a whopping 20-8 ATS. Last season, it went the other way, as they were 5-26 overall, and 9-17 ATS. Anyway, what I am saying is there has been money to be made off the Peacocks over the years. This season, and this week, is no different.
This week: LIU-Brooklyn, Wednesday; Loyola-Chicago, Saturday