Sports Betting Insights: Betting on College Basketball Conference Tournaments Part 2
by Dave Schwab - 3/12/2014
Championship Week in men's college basketball really starts to heat up this weekend with the later rounds of all the major conference tournaments. Last week I went with BYU in the West Coast Conference and Murray State, out of the Ohio Valley as my top two picks based on BetOnline's futures odds to win their respective tournament. The Cougars came up short in an 11-point loss to Gonzaga in the WCC Finals, and the Racers never made it past the semifinals as the No. 2 seed in their tournament.
That means it is back to the drawing board in an effort to redeem myself with two value picks in this week's tournaments. I am going to start in the ACC Tournament that gets underway on Wednesday night with a trio of play-in games between the bottom six seeds. The real action from Greensboro does not fire up until this Friday when the top four seeds take the court.
Virginia won the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed in the ACC with a record of 16-2, but the Cavaliers have been opened as +200 second-favorites after a disturbing 75-69 overtime loss to Maryland in their season finale as four-point road favorites. Syracuse was at the top of the national polls for most of the winter, but a 2-4 slide down the stretch dropped it to the second seed for this tournament with a record of 14-4. The Orange have been opened as +350 third-favorites to win this week. The No. 3 seed in the ACC is Duke, and it has been opened as a +165 favorite to cut down the nets this Sunday afternoon.
That leaves the No. 4 seed North Carolina Tar Heels as my top value pick at +600 to win this year's ACC Tournament. Ever since they started conference play with four losses in their first five games, the Tar Heels have been playing with a huge chip on their collective shoulders. They proceeded to run off 12 straight victories in the conference before a season-ending 93-81 defeat against Duke as nine-point road underdogs. Keep in mind that one of those 12 wins was a 74-66 victory over the Blue Devils as two-point underdogs at home.
North Carolina will first have to get by Pittsburgh in the quarterfinals, assuming the Panthers win their first game against either Wake Forest or Notre Dame. Next, the Tar Heels will most likely have to beat Virginia in the semifinals to get another shot at Duke in the ACC Finals (unless the Blue Devils get tripped up along the way). Given the current odds for the top four seeds as well as the Tar Heels' current form, all the value in this conference lies in a play on North Carolina to win it all.
My second team to ride this weekend takes us to the AAC where the Cincinnati Bearcats and the Louisville Cardinals come into their conference tournament as the top two seeds. Both teams finished the regular season 15-3 in AAC play and 26-5 overall. They split their two meetings this season, with the road team winning each time. The margin of victory in both games was a combined four points.
Given how tough the Bearcats played the defending National Champions in each game, there is some tremendous value in their +325 odds to win the AAC Tournament, especially in light of the Cardinals' -160 odds to win. Both teams will face a stiff test in the semifinals with teams such as SMU, Memphis and Connecticut standing in the way, but I still see both tops seeds fighting their way to Saturday's AAC Finals for the rubber match. There is no doubt that Louisville will open as a solid favorite, but take the value in the odds with a play on Cincinnati to add an AAC Tournament title to an already shared regular-season crown.
NCAA Tournament Early Bracket Busters
As of Tuesday night's games there are 12 teams that have already punched their ticket to the Big Dance by winning their conference tournament. Teams such as No. 2 Wichita State and possibly Gonzaga were getting into the NCAA Tournament anyway. However, if you are looking for a potential bracket buster in the other 10 teams that has the best shot make it to the Sweet 16, my choice would be the Delaware Blue Hens out of the Colonial Athletic Association.
Any fan of this tournament should be familiar with a few other recent bracket busters from this conference such as George Mason and VCU (when the Rams were still in the CAA), and the Blue Hens are well positioned to be the next. They have a trio of big guns in Devon Saddler, Jarvis Threatt and Davon Usher, who are each averaging over 18 points per game. The team as a whole is putting up 79.5 PPG and, while defense is definitely not Delaware's strong suit, it is built to outrun anyone it faces in the first two rounds.
Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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