College Basketball Sweat Barometer 

January, 11, 2012

If you've been a reader of this blog for some time or a listener of Chad's Behind the Bets podcasts, you've heard a lot of discussion about "sharps" (professional handicappers) and "squares" (the rest of us suckers who donate to the sports books). Quick summary: Sharps look for value and walk away when the number isn't appealing.

Squares tend to gravitate to the favorite. A line moving half a point up isn't likely to alter a square's play.

Knowing that squares tend to prefer favorites, I was surprised when compiling this week's chart to see that 20 of the 25 top Sweat Barometer teams have been favorites on average. This includes the top seven, led by No. 1 Sweat Barometer team Missouri Tigers, which has been a favorite in every game it has played with a spread this season.

But after talking to professional handicapper Sal Selvaggio of, this isn't all that unusual.

"Once a team starts covering point spreads, they are obviously undervalued, and the ones with the greatest sweat numbers are going to be teams that need their point spreads inflated the most by the bookmakers," Selvaggio said. "So teams that were small dogs now become small faves, teams that were small faves on average become bigger faves."

So that begs the question: Do the worst Sweat Barometer teams in the country (look at the bottom of the chart for the SB bottom five) tend to be underdogs? So far, it's a resounding yes. Four of our bottom five have been consistent dogs.

Picking too many favorites can be a dangerous approach in the long run. But if you find the ones that haven't been properly valued, you'll find the teams that will give you the least sweat.

With that, let's turn to this week's chart:

Jeff Gold

ESPN Contributor