Missouri Valley Tournament Arch Madness Expert Betting Picks and Preview
My specialty conference is the Mo Valley along with the Big 12, and as March Madness fast approaches with conference Tourneys, with the Big 10 and many Mid-Majors this week and weekend, a quick breakdown of this tourney, which is played in St Louis every year, and "Arch Madness" from St Louis looks to be top heavy this season, with a massive amount of parity in between.
The class and crème of the crop this year in the Mo Valley is clearly the Loyola of Chicago Ramblers, a relative newcomer to the Mo Valley replacing Wichita State, as they exited for a bigger conference in the AAC and of course Creighton a few years back, bolting for the big money in the Big East, which left this conference devoid of any sexy teams.
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Loyola boasts some solid numbers not only in this conference but nationally, especially on offense as they have the 2nd ranked offense in FG% in the nation, and ranked 12th nationally in 3-point shooting as well, along with a defense ranked 7th nationally in points allowed. For that reason, they dominated this conference that is short on offense and long on defense, and they finished at 15-3 in conference action. They are the best spread covering team in the conference at 17-8-1 ATS, and the best road team in the Mo Valley at 11-4 in true road games and neutral site games, and also beat Florida in Gainesville in the non-conference schedule. They are talented and deep and can put up points on anyone, and no one better sleep on them in the big dance because they can matchup and run the floor with a ton of top 25 team, have no illusions they can be dangerous.
The rest of the conference really is parity filled and it is anyone's chance to get them in the Finals on Sunday as they have a first-round bye, and should breeze to the finals.
Here is a breakdown of the futures for this tourney: (2/26)
Southern Illinois +700
Illinois State +700
Missouri State +750
Indiana State +1025
Northern Iowa +1100
Dead Last - Evansville +2200
As you can see the list is long and tight past Loyola and the side plays here might not hold much value as it is anyone's ballgame in most of these games. The value may be in the totals plays and I expect the UNDERS to dominate this tourney. Most of the teams in this conference are offensively challenged and defense is the name of the game. Look at the opening night where Evansville, with the leading scorer in the Mo Valley, Ryan Taylor (22 ppg), is playing Northern Iowa. The score in the last game they played was a 47-41 Final and the total was 119. Interesting to see that opening line (not available as this article was published.
The Mo Valley is a home /road dichotomy conference, as home teams dominate big time and teams that are the better team in the game lose regularly during the season, it is amazing. On a neutral floor twice the size of most arena's these teams play in, will be a dynamic you have to consider on a game by game basis as the tourney moves along.
Evansville and Mo State look to be dark horses but they play each other in the second round should they advance out of Thursday night which is expected, as both will be small favorites, and Southern Illinois who finished 2nd in the regular season may be in the finals, and this is close to home for them, so a 1-2 seed final may in fact be what happens, however this tourney will provide some upsets and head scratchers along the way. Indiana State and Illinois State both have longshot chances to get to the finals, Indiana State being the best of those 2 teams as they played well down the stretch and they play each other Friday night.
A solid bet is Loyola of Chicago at +120 to win it all on the futures market, and look for the totals numbers to find value as this tourney progresses, it will not be a tourney where there will be a ton of shootouts so based on what you see in the opening rounds you may find value again on some Under plays.
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