Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Predictions and Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 3/2/2011
In my opinion the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament is a little bit like a starting gun for March Madness. That league championship really signifies the beginning of the insanity that is about to envelop the sports betting world and offers the first glimpse into the unique situations and challenges that lie ahead.
The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament, also known as Arch Madness, begins Thursday, March 3 in St. Louis. The 10-team tournament starts with a pair of “play-in” games on Thursday night before the quarterfinals begin at noon on Friday. By Sunday a champion will be crowned and one of the first automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament will be secured.
Here are Doc’s Sports Missouri Valley Tournament predictions (with MVC Tournament odds courtesy of BetUS):
The Favorite: Wichita State (+150)
I know that Missouri State won the regular season title. But ask any player, coach or fan of the Missouri Valley and they will tell you that the Shockers have the most talent of any club in the league. I know the Shockers are just 3-3 straight up in their last six games and just 1-5 against the spread during that time. It appears they are “stumbling down the stretch”. But the reality is that this team has lost only five games since Dec. 5 and those losses have been by an average of just three points per game. They have gone 9-1 SU and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games, and in a league where home court means so much I think those numbers speak volumes about just how good this club can be.
The Contender: Missouri State (+135)
The top seed has won the championship and automatic berth three consecutive years and they have made the title game four straight times. The Bears are the top seed in this tournament so I know most people would consider them the favorite. Not I. The Bears have to be riding high after a home win over the Shockers to claim the regular season crown. This is one of the best shooting teams in the country (No. 44 field goal percentage, No. 35 from three-point range). They have four players that have hit 40 percent or more of their threes this year, and that doesn’t even count clutch shooter Adam Leonard. I feel like Missouri State controls its own destiny. If they get hot and start knocking down their shots then they will be unbeatable. But that’s really the only way I can see them winning three games in three days because they don’t have size, depth or a strong defense, and they are overreliant on the three.
The Sleeper: Creighton (+800)
I have felt throughout Missouri Valley play that the Blue Jays hadn’t played up to their potential yet. I still think they are a year away from dominating this league, but right now I think they have enough talent to have a say in who comes out of The Valley. Greg Echenique gives them a unique presence on the interior and if their freshmen, including up-and-comer Doug McDermott, use St. Louis as a breakout point then the Blue Jays could find themselves in the title game. At one point between 1998 and 2007 Creighton won seven titles in nine years, so it’s in their blood to dominate Arch Madness.
The Spoiler: Indiana State (+500)
The Sycamores aren’t good enough to win this tournament, but they are definitely good enough to spring an upset. They are another team that lives and dies by the three. And if they are connecting from deep they can be tough. They also have wins over Missouri State, Creighton and Northern Iowa this year and they took Wichita State to OT on the road so they have proven that they can play with the top-tier teams. They have been kind of a hard-luck team this year with injuries and I don’t think they will stay in the fold long. But don’t be stunned if they reach the semis and either knock someone out or at least threaten to knock someone out.
No. 8 Southern Illinois vs. No. 9 Illinois State (7 p.m., Thursday, March 3)
The winner plays Missouri State on Friday and this intrastate “rivalry” game offers the proverbial contrast in styles. Basically, Southern Illinois wants to lock down on defense and can’t score at all while Illinois State seems like it’s allergic to defense while they can occasionally put the rock in the hole. Predictably, these teams split the season series with each club winning at home. Illinois State covered both games and both times the difference in the final score was four points. Personally I won’t be betting or probably even watching this game; both of these teams stink.
No. 7 Drake vs. No. 10 Bradley (9:30 p.m., Thursday, March 3)
I don’t know what got into the Bulldogs, but over the course of the last month-plus of the regular season they were as hot as anyone in the league. They went 8-2 ATS down the stretch and posted wins over Northern Iowa and Creighton, they won their Bracket Buster, and they nearly beat Missouri State at home. Bradley has been THE hard luck team in The Valley this year and the roster has been decimated by injuries. However, they just beat Drake by 26 points in their meeting last week. It’s doubtful that will happen again, but it has to give this team some confidence.
No. 4 Northern Iowa vs. No. 5 Creighton (2:30 p.m., Friday, March 4)
The Panthers are the defending Valley champions and a Sweet 16 team from last year. But right now they are a sinking ship. This team is 1-6 SU in its last seven games and just 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games (6-13 ATS in their L19). This game is also a rematch from a game last Saturday that Creighton won, 63-55. The Blue Jays actually trailed at the half but controlled the final 20 minutes. They should take advantage of Northern Iowa’s suddenly soft interior. But regardless, this one should come down to the final four minutes.
No. 3 Indiana State vs. No. 6 Evansville (8:30 p.m., Friday, March 4)
The Sycamores have the higher seed, but I’d have to say that Evansville comes into this matchup with all of the confidence. The Purple Aces swept the season series and posed some real matchup problems for ISU. The Sycamores are still without Jake Kelly (mono), but they have also been hot, winning five of six overall and six of seven against the spread. It is hard to beat any team three times in one season. Especially when you are not better than that team.
Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Predictions: Last year Wichita State came up short in the MVC Championship Game against Northern Iowa. That will give them that little extra bit of motivation that they will need here. I love the Shockers’ depth. And in a three-day slugfest that will make a tremendous difference for them. I think that they are actually offering tremendous value given their path. They will dominate Drake or Bradley and then they will have a massive physical edge over ISU or Evansville. That would leave the winner of the Missouri State/UNI/Creighton wing and I think Wichita will wear them down. Go with the Shockers to take the title.
Robert Ferringo keeps proving himself to be one of the best college basketball handicappers in the nation. His college basketball picks have earned $100 bettors nearly $7,000 in the last two months. Another strong card is coming on Wednesday and you can get his pick HERE for only $30.
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