College Basketball Sweat Barometer 

February, 2, 2012

After I sort through the Sweat Barometer data each week, there is one final task before submitting my piece: I add each school's nickname.

Adding nicknames can be tedious. No matter how many weeks in a row South Dakota State is atop the board, I seem unable to remember that the team name is the Jackrabbits. Same goes for North Texas (Mean Green), Wofford (Terriers) and Middle Tennessee State (Blue Raiders).

It becomes remarkably easier as I make my way down the "Remaining Top 25" part of the chart as those are the teams we all know so well. And look who is at the bottom this week: Duke … yes, the Blue Devils have been a terrible bet this season.

It again brings back the all-important lesson of "public" teams that Chad Millman explores frequently on this blog and in his podcasts. These are teams backed by the masses and the ones you probably don't want to get into the habit of betting because you aren't getting much value in their lines. In college basketball, one prime example is Duke.

"They are always overrated because of the name on the jersey," said professional handicapper Sal Selvaggio of, the data provider for the Sweat Barometer. "They are going to get everyone's best game every time they play, because they're Duke. It's similar to what Miami goes through in the NBA when it gets everyone's best."

Selvaggio went even further. Not only is Duke generally a bad bet, but this is the time of the year when it's especially wise to stay away.

"In conference play all these teams are very familiar with each other and the value often lies playing against the 'named' schools more often than not," Selvaggio said.

Duke has won six of its past eight games … and also failed to cover in six of those eight. Duke's average line against ACC opponents has been -10.

The Blue Devils have a legend on the sidelines, a roster full of McDonald's All-Americans and one of the best home courts in the nation. They even have legitimate Final Four hopes. But that doesn't make them a good bet.

With that said, let's turn to the latest Sweat Barometer of the best and worst teams to bet in college basketball, once again topped by South Dakota State … the Jackrabbits.

Jeff Gold

ESPN Contributor