March Madness Betting: CBI Tournament Predictions
by Nicholas Tolomeo - 3/16/2010
The NCAA Tournament dominates the betting landscape in March but the demand for an expanded postseason and more college basketball has created branch off tournaments including the longstanding National Invitational Tournament.
There is another lesser-known tournament out there that gets to pick teams from what is left of the field after the NCAA Tournament and NIT tournament get their teams. The College Basketball Invitational is now in its third year. It is smaller than the 65-team NCAA Tournament and the 32-team NIT.
The CBI has a 16-team field with games played entirely on home courts. Another major difference is the championship is decided by a best-of-three series.
The CBI opening round is Tuesday, March 16 and Wednesday, March 17. The teams and matchups may not be as sexy as what the rest of March Madness has to offer but a bettor would be smart to give these less scrutinized point spreads a second look.
Some of the more known teams in the tournament field include defending champion Oregon State and three teams from Atlantic 10: George Washington, Duquesne and Saint Louis. In the first round Saint Louis, Akron, George Washington, Eastern Kentucky, Oregon State, Morehead State, Hofstra and Princeton have all earned an opening round home game.
When it comes to second tier tournaments there are three major factors to look at. Motivation, how a team is playing late in the season and experience in postseason tournaments are crucial in this tournament just like they are in the NIT.
Here are three teams to avoid in the CBI:
The Bilikens looked like a potential NCAA team out of the Atlantic 10, or at worst an NIT team. However, a late season slide cost them both bids to the tournaments. Then they went out in the first round of the Atlantic 10 Tournament and got pasted, 63-47, by Rhode Island. Saint Louis is 20-11 overall this season and 15-3 at home where they play Indiana State in the first round, but you have to question their motivation at a point like this.
Ever since reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2002 and having the letters IUPUI on the tip of everyone’s tongue in March, the Jaguars have fallen off the face of the college basketball map and that is mainly because they have not been able to navigate postseason tournaments the way they could in the early part of the decade.
If the past two CBI’s taught us anything it is that the games take on more of a offensive pace and that is not going to help Eastern Kentucky, which struggles mightily on the defensive side of things as it is. Even playing in the Ohio Valley Conference, Eastern Kentucky had the 315th-ranked defense and 339th-ranked three-point defense. On top of that they are 13-16 ATS overall and 4-7 ATS at home where they will start the tournament.
Here are three teams to keep an eye on as potential profit makers in the CBI:
The Zips are playing some really good basketball right now. They closed the regular season on a 7-2 SU run and then won games over Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan in back-to-back days before losing to Ohio. They played three games in three days and experience like that is important in these postseason tournaments. Last season the Zips won four games in four days to win the MAC so they plenty of experience playing and succeeding in these type formats.
The Beavers look like an obvious choice to back but they could also be considered an obvious choice to fade. They are 14-17 SU this season, the worst record in the CBI. The only reason they have this bid is because they are defending champions. But there are other things to look for here. The Beavers are 18-8 ATS this season and obviously have the experience of navigating this tournament. Even being the only team from a power six conference, Oregon State has plenty of motivation to defend their title from last season.
With another far-from-impressive record at 16-15 SU, Duquesne looks like a curious choice for any postseason tournament. The Dukes are also only 8-16 ATS overall but 6-7 ATS on the road where they will be for the entirety of this tournament. The reason Duquesne is worth a second look here is because of their offense -- they can score 100 points in a game -- and defense has been known to be a little lax in the CBI. Also they have a young team and coach Ron Everhart will surely be using this experience as a building block for next season. Last season Duquesne won three games in three days to reach the Atlantic 10 title game and then played a thrilling double overtime game in the NIT at Virginia Tech. The Dukes are young but they have the experience, coaching and mindset to win games in the CBI.
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