The most profitable team in the sports betting world right now is ... Drake basketball?

·4 min read

No matter how good a team is, they can’t outplay the spread all season.

The Kansas City Chiefs had the best record in the NFL and went 7-9 against the spread. The Los Angeles Lakers were the runaway favorite to win the NBA championship and they’re just 4-3 against the spread.

The reason is obvious. Once a team is playing well and bettors notice, sportsbooks adjust. After a while, oddsmakers can’t make spreads high enough; casual bettors will always back teams like the Chiefs and Lakers no matter the line. The spreads get so inflated that elite teams can win but not come close to covering the spread.

That’s what makes the story of Drake basketball so peculiar. An under-the-radar Missouri Valley Conference team that has little history of success can’t lose against the spread. And the best streak in sports that nobody is talking about is happening just as BetMGM launched mobile sports betting in Iowa, where Drake is located.

Drake is still undefeated against the spread

Toledo, VCU and Liberty are having great seasons against the spread. Toledo is 9-2 ATS and the other two teams are 8-2. Among teams with at least 10 games with a spread, they’re the only ones with two losses according to Action Network’s ATS standings. Everyone else has more, except Drake.

Drake is 11-0 against the spread, two games better than any other team that has played at least 10 times in a game that has been posted by sportsbooks. That’s an unbelievable streak against the spread.

Gonzaga is the easy national title favorite, Baylor is clearly No. 2 and other teams like Iowa and Villanova are strong Final Four contenders. But the No. 1 team to bettors this season has been Drake, who isn’t ranked in the two major college basketball top-25 polls.

Drake has played 13 games and won them all. Games against St. Ambrose and McKendree College didn’t have a spread, but the other 11 did and the Bulldogs have covered every one. Drake started the season with a 10-point win as a 4-point underdog at Kansas State. They have been favorites in every games since. They were 32-point favorites against Chicago State and won by 44. Not only have they covered every game, only once did they even come close to not covering.

On Dec. 28, in a conference game against Indiana State, Drake was favored by 5 and won 73-66. The Bulldogs trailed 29-25 at the half and led by just 4 with 17 seconds left. But Drake hit 3-of-4 free throws at the end and Indiana State missed a 3-pointer with a second to go.

The best streak in the sports betting world stayed alive.

Garrett Sturtz (3) and Drake are off to a surprising start this season. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Garrett Sturtz (3) and Drake are off to a surprising start this season. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

How long can Drake’s streak continue?

Drake was picked to finish seventh in the Missouri Valley, and it’s not like that didn’t fit with the program’s history. Drake’s 2008 NCAA tournament berth was the only one for the program since 1971. In the first round of that 2008 tournament, Drake lost on a buzzer beater against Western Kentucky.

Drake could make it back to the tournament this season. The Bulldogs have been great on offense, with the fifth-best effective field-goal percentage in the nation according to The Bulldogs lost 7-footer Liam Robbins when he transferred to Minnesota, but Green Bay transfer ShanQuan Hemphill is leading the team with 14.2 points per game and the team’s depth has been a plus.

“Us putting in basically a whole new defense and then having no preseason games, I wasn’t really sure what to expect when we actually started playing games until we got out there and could let the guys work their way through some of this stuff,” Drake coach Darian DeVries said, according to the Waterloo Cedar Falls Courier. “I did think we had a group that was pretty connected throughout the summer and fall. They had great chemistry.”

It will be hard for Drake to keep it going. The Bulldogs benefitted from a schedule that is ranked by KenPom as the 304th toughest in college basketball. They’ll face some challenging games in the MVC. Their point spreads will go up a bit, though it’s not like oddsmakers are sweating a mid-major college basketball team like they do an NFL playoff game. That’s one reason some serious bettors focus on smaller college basketball conferences. A story like Drake can remain under the radar for a long time, and bettors can keep cashing tickets.

Drake won’t go undefeated against the spread. They’ll regress to the mean. But for bettors who caught on to the Bulldogs’ streak early on, they’ve already made a nice profit.

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