Month: March 2019

2019 Big Ten Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

All 14 teams make the field, Top 10 get byes, Top 4 get a double bye. All games played on a neutral floor in Chicago. Starts on Wednesday and is the last game played on Sunday before the selection show.

First three rounds are on BTN, with the semis and championship game being played on CBS.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

Michigan State +190

Other Contenders

Purdue +250

Michigan +350

Wisconsin +650

Darkhorse Candidates

Maryland +1550

Indiana +3300

Penn State +5000

Iowa +6000

Minnesota +6600

Ohio State +10000

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Nebraska +15000

Illinois +30000

Rutgers +30000

Northwestern +30000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Excluded: Michigan State, Michigan, Purdue, Wisconsin, Maryland, Iowa, Minnesota (probably)

The Big Ten has been a little crazy over the last few weeks with some of the mid-level teams arguably playing even better than the Top 5.

Ohio State is currently playing themselves out of the field thanks to Kaleb Wesson’s suspension and it might be for the best in terms of the NCAAT. They’ve never been the most entertaining team to watch and they didn’t pick up a single victory over the Top 5 in the league.

Indiana certainly has the program cache and the starpower to make things interesting. From a basketball standpoint, I would’ve said they were a drag a couple weeks ago, but they suddenly started playing some entertaining offense again and I can get on board with that version of the Hoosiers.

Penn State is on a tear right now and capable of beating anybody when they’re locked in defensively.

Illinois might be the most fun pick, though. They create some chaos defensively. Big Giorgi has an infectious personality. Ayo Dosunmu is a potential lottery pick. And Trent Frazier has a little bit of crazy in him and is a great shooter, which can make for some crazy shotmaking at times. But they might’ve hit their peak a few weeks ago.

Best Bet

Michigan +350

Based on the way John Beilein is talking, it sounds like Charles Matthews will most likely be back soon. Of the Top 4 teams that get double byes, I think the Wolverines have the best draw. They’re either playing Iowa, Illinois, or Northwestern in the quarters. All three are ice cold. They’re not guaranteed to have to face Purdue because the Boilers either have to play Minnesota – a terrible matchup for them – or Penn State, who is red hot.

Obviously the first two games against Michigan State didn’t go well, but I hardly think it’s because they’re incapable of beating the Spartans. It’s also hard not to like Beilein here. He’s won the last two BTTs and has obviously had a lot of success in the NCAAT. He’s great in these scenarios.

2019 Pac-12 Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

All 12 teams make the field, Top 4 get byes. All games on a neutral court in Las Vegas. Starts on Wednesday and concludes with a late Saturday night championship game.

Most of the games are on the Pac-12 Network, except one semi and the championship is on ESPN.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

None?

Other Contenders

Washington +325

Oregon +390

Arizona State +425

Oregon State +450

Colorado +700

Darkhorse Candidates

Utah +1000

Arizona +2500

UCLA +2500

USC +3000

Stanford +3000

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Washington State +25000

Cal +25000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Excluded: Washington (I think)

I’m not gonna say no one because I’ve trashed the Pac-12 enough and I’m trying to be a better person and not say that the league is an utter disgrace and Larry Scott is the most overpaid human being in America.

So instead I’ll say Arizona State. 90% of the reasoning for the Sun Devils is you know you’re gonna get Bobby Hurley being an absolute psycho on the sidelines. They also play a fast pace and have shown themselves capable of beating good teams over the past couple years, but the desire to see Arizona State is mostly for this:

Related image

A team off the radar that I actually enjoy is Colorado. Tyler Bey is an animal. McKinley Wright’s a talented guard. Lucas Siewert can shoot it. They’re not all bad.

Best Bet

Oregon +390

I don’t know who to believe in because they’re all so flawed. The Ducks have a ton of talent, the best coach in the league, and a history of success in this tournament. They’re also on a four-game win streak. I have no idea. That’s my take.

2019 Big Sky Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

All 11 teams make the field, Top 5 get the byes. Starts on Wednesday and ends on Saturday with every game being played in Boise.

The first three rounds will be streamed on Pluto TV. Quarters and semis will be on Eleven Sports. Championship game will be on ESPNU.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

Montana +135

Other Contenders

Northern Colorado +280

Weber State +575

Darkhorse Candidates

Eastern Washington +925

Montana State +1150

Portland State +1700

Southern Utah +4000

Sacramento State +6000

Northern Arizona +6600

Idaho State +7000

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Idaho +12500

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Montana is the gold standard of the league recently, but Northern Colorado is nipping at their heels and has the best scorer in the league with Jordan Davis.

Best Bet

Northern Colorado +280

Montana was the defending champs heading into this season and I’d say the overwhelming favorite to repeat this year. But the Grizzlies lost their big interior man Jamar Akoh midway through the year and have had to adapt their style without him. They’re shooting a lot more threes these days and the rebounding numbers have fallen quite a bit on both ends.

But Montana still won the league outright thanks to NCU blundering their senior night and dropping an OT game against Northern Arizona.

Why I like NCU to win the title that really counts in this league: 1) They’re the best defensive team in the league and the best defensive team has won the Big Sky Tournament the last four years. This is an offensive league and I always like taking the best defenses in those situations. 2) They have the best player/scorer in Davis. 3) I think they’ll be extra motivated to win this championship after letting the regular season slip away in such maddening fashion.

I will say there is one thing that makes me a little leery here: awards. NCU swept the individual awards with POY, ROY, DPOY, and COY all going to a different member of the Bears. Obviously that means they have good players, but it also means the experienced, defending champs – who also won the league outright this year – got zero individual awards and might be playing with a chip on their shoulder.

2019 Southland Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

Only 8 of 13 teams make the field, which I love. The Top 4 get byes and the Top 2 get double byes, which I also love. All games are played on a neutral floor in Katy, TX. Starts Wednesday and is done by Saturday.

First three rounds are on ESPN+ and the championship is on ESPN2 Saturday night.

THE BRACKET

Since I realize that Southland Conference logos might not be as universal as, say, the ACC, here’s the list of teams by seed:

1) Sam Houston State

2) Abilene Christian

3) Southeastern Louisiana

4) New Orleans

5) Lamar

6) Texas A&M Corpus Christi

7) Central Arkansas

8) Houston Baptist

THE ODDS

Favorites

Sam Houston State +120

Abilene Christian +125

Other Contenders

Lamar +700

SE Louisiana +1050

Darkhorse Candidates

New Orleans +1700

Texas A&M CC +3000

Houston Baptist +7500

Central Arkansas +8000

Unfortunately Irrelevant

None. This is what happens when you trim the fat.

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Sam Houston State seems like the fairly obvious answer here. Abilene would’ve been appealing, too, but they kicked off two of their starters in February and don’t have near the potential for the upset that they did before the dismissals.

The Bearkats of SHSU can absolutely shoot the lights out and if they draw a team like Virginia that also likes to play a halfcourt game, they could make things interesting if they start to make some shots.

SHSU did play some quality competition in the non-con and I always like that so it’s not a complete competitive shock to them if they get in the dance.

Best Bet

SE Louisiana +1050

I don’t know if you noticed, but I’ve bet on the Lions like 10 times this year. Some might call it an addiction, but they’re 12-3 over their last 15. They’ve got two of the best players in the league in Marlain Veal and Moses Greenwood. They’re good on both ends of the floor. They’re relentless on the offensive glass and most of the guys in their rotation can shoot it.

They have to play one more day than the favorites, but I like that they’re on the same side of the bracket with Abilene, who’s not at full strength. They just won at Abilene a couple weeks ago. SHSU would still be a pretty formidable opponent in the championship, but I think they can stick with them and maybe pull the upset.

2019 C-USA Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

Everyone makes the field, Top 4 get byes. I forgot how absurd this tournament is now. The C-USA is clearly “forward thinking” with their bracket format and the way they structured their last few weeks of the regular season. I’m just not sure that it makes things any better. Everything reeks of the influence of that lunatic Mark Adams, who’s basically the leading voice of mid-majors now, except that he’s not a smart person and he probably does more harm than good with his misguided arguments.

Anyway, the tournament is in Frisco, Texas and…well, they play two games at once in the same venue like it’s a fucking AAU tournament. I still don’t know how this helps anything. It’s a Mickey Mouse setup that only limits the amount of time that someone might tune in to watch their league.

The first two rounds are on Stadium and the last two are on CBS Sports Network.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

Southern Miss +190

Other Contenders

Old Dominion +315

Western Kentucky +445

UTSA +550

Darkhorse Candidates

Marshall +1200

UAB +1200

Louisiana Tech +1200

North Texas +1200

FAU +2500

FIU +5000

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Rice +10000

MTSU +15000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

It hasn’t been the best year for Marshall, but they’re still the pick. People will remember their win over Wichita State last year and they’ll probably remember that Jon Elmore led them there. They play at a breakneck pace and the Herd are probably still the best team to rep the league in the Big Dance.

Western Kentucky might be the backup with their not-at-all-questionable five-star recruit Charles Bassey that they have leading the team.

Best Bet

Marshall +1200

I haven’t followed Marshall’s season close enough to know what the hell was going on there from late January to mid-February, but I do know that they’ve righted the ship and won five in a row.  The defense is starting to come together, they still have Jon Elmore and CJ Burks in their backcourt, and they finally have something to play for.

2019 Big East Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

10 teams, Top 6 get byes, games start Wednesday and end Saturday. Games are played in Madison Square Garden

First three rounds are on FS1, championship game is on Saturday night on FOX.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

Villanova +225

Marquette +240

Other Contenders

Creighton +500

St. John’s +725

Seton Hall +750

Darkhorse Candidates

Xavier +900

Georgetown +950

Butler +1500

Providence +2500

DePaul +6000

Unfortunately Irrelevant

None. This is as wide open as it gets, brother.

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Excluded: Marquette, Villanova

It’s hard to pick one here. St. John’s and Creighton play a style that are entertaining to watch, but their defense is maddening to a basketball purist. Seton Hall tends to grind games, but they aren’t afraid to run and Myles Powell is fun when the game gets tight. Georgetown has plenty of flaws, but the Hoyas appeal to the older audience and Patrick Ewing coaching the team doesn’t hurt. Xavier is the hot team right now and they’ve had a strong presence in March for a while now.

Best Bet

Seton Hall +750

I was fully prepared to take Xavier, but the uncertainty of Naji Marshall’s health scared me away.

I’ll take Myles Powell and the Hall here. They open with Georgetown, who they rolled at home and lost a double OT heartbreaker to on the road. If they sneak past that one, they’re likely to get the 2 seed Marquette, who they just beat at home and is on a slide. They also played the Golden Eagles tight in Milwaukee.

You can justify almost any team you want to in this tournament, but I’m happy riding with the Pirates. Markus Howard steals all the headlines, but I’ll take Myles Powell in these tournament games. The kid is just nails.

Seton Hall won the tournament three years ago and lost the past couple years by a combined three points.

 

2019 Mountain West Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

All 11 teams make the field, Top 5 get a bye. All games played in the Mack Center in Las Vegas, UNLV’s home floor. Games start on Wednesday and end on Saturday.

First round is on the MWN, quarters and semis on CBSSN, and the championship is on CBS.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

Nevada -190

Other Contenders

Utah State +260

Fresno State +690

Darkhorse Candidates

San Diego State +2000

UNLV +3300

Boise State +7500

Unfortunately Irrelevant

New Mexico +20000

Colorado State +20000

Air Force +30000

Wyoming +50000

San Jose State +100000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Excluded: Nevada

It’s clearly the other Mountain West champion, Utah State. Sam Merrill is the best non-Nevada player in the league, Craig Smith is a tremendous young coach, and the Aggies can fill it up.

Fresno at least deserves a mention, as well.

Best Bet

Field (vs. Nevada) +150

I don’t have anything enlightening to say about Nevada, they just seem to lack focus a lot, especially when they’re not in Reno. Their season hasn’t been all that different from last year when they nearly lost in their first round game to UNLV and then got dumptrucked by San Diego State in the semis.

Nevada has more talent than anyone else in the league, but they don’t really play with a constant edge like you’d like to see if you’re going to lay the juice on them.

Utah State is the next best team on paper, but they have such a huge homecourt advantage that I don’t really like taking anything less than 3.5-to-1 with them here on a neutral court.

I’d rather just take the field. The Pack will either get Boise or Colorado State in the quarters who are both better than their records indicate. The semis are either gonna be a true road game at UNLV or against San Diego State, who they split with this year.

2019 Big 12 Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

10 teams, Top 6 get byes, starts Wednesday, ends Saturday, and it’s in Kansas City. All games will be on ESPN, ESPN2, or ESPNU.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

Texas Tech +115

Other Contenders

Kansas State +365

Kansas +400

Iowa State +610

Darkhorse Candidates

Texas +990

Baylor +1500

Oklahoma +2500

TCU +2500

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Oklahoma State +10000

West Virginia +20000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Excluded: Texas Tech, Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State

I don’t think they necessarily even have to win a game, but Baylor is somewhat up in the air and they would be a valuable contribution to the NCAAT. They have a lot of talented players, but they’re really only necessary if Makai Mason is healthy. Mason obviously burst on the scene a few years ago when he led Yale over…well, Baylor. His presence and his ability to get white hot makes Baylor fun.

Best Bet

Kansas +400

Texas Tech should absolutely be the favorite, but I don’t think you can take them with that small of return and they might have to beat three NCAAT teams (probably all seeded 9 or higher) to win it. The Red Raiders have looked incredible lately, but that’s pretty equal in difficulty to making a Final Four.

Dean Wade isn’t going to play for Kansas State.

Iowa State is in a nosedive.

Makai Mason is hurt again and questionable to play in this tournament.

Kerwin Roach is coming back for Texas, but they’ve lost 4 of 5 without him and now have to reacclimate him into the rotation against…

Kansas. In Kansas City aka Phog Allen East. Kansas is not Kansas this year with the loss of two of their best players, but they’re still a pretty formidable, man. They’ve gone 6-2 without Lagerald Vick and haven’t moved a spot in KenPom. Yes, they got wrecked in Lubbock, but that was kind of a perfect storm of events. I’m willing to go out on a big limb and say Tech won’t go 16-26 from three if they meet in the semis.

At the end of the day, you’re getting the coach that has won 8 of the last 13 Big 12 Tournaments at 4-to-1 odds and they’re playing semi-home games. I’ll take that.

2019 Sun Belt Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

This is formatted just like the WCC bracket, except for the first round being at the home sites of the higher seeded team. All other games are in New Orleans.

First round is on Tuesday, other rounds start on Thursday and end on Sunday. The first few rounds are on ESPN+ and the championship game is on ESPN2.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

Georgia State +190

Georgia Southern +240

Other Contenders

UT Arlington +400

Texas State +400

Darkhorse Candidates

Coastal Carolina +1500

UL Monroe +1500

UL Lafayette +2200

South Alabama +5000

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Arkansas State +10000

Appalachian State +10000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

The few teams at the top would all make things interesting and could win a game in the NCAAT. Georgia State had to earn the title with a win at rival Georgia Southern’s on the last day of competition and they’re certainly an intriguing team. They were the Sun Belt rep last year, they have a star in D’Marcus Simonds, and Ron Hunter on the sideline keeps them entertaining.

If you’re looking for a good team with a volume scorer, Southern and Tookie Brown fit the bill. They haven’t had many great performances in this tournament the past few years, though.

Best Bet

UT Arlington +400

This bracket is formatted just like the WCC. The thing about the WCC is, it doesn’t matter how you structure it. They could play it on the moon and Gonzaga is gonna win it. The Sun Belt does not have that clear-cut favorite, so you wonder how all the byes affect the top teams.

This is how crazy the format is: UL Monroe could win three straight games and they’d be forced to play UT Arlington. It would be ULM’s fourth game and UTA’s first and – not factoring for fatigue – ULM might be FAVORED over UTA. ULM is seven spots higher than UTA in KenPom and they would have to win three extra games to win the championship. That’s nuts.

Before looking at the odds or the bracket or any of it, I had ULM in my head as somebody I might play. Now that I see the bracket and the odds, it’s one of the worst values on the board in my opinion.

So we’re riding with Arlington. The Mavs had the lowest “minute continuity” percentage of 351 D-1 teams with 5.2%, according to KenPom. Essentially, it was a brand new team with a first time head coach in Chris Ogden.

They took their lumps on the road in the non-con against high major teams and started off 4-11. Since that time, they’re 12-4 and have gone up 98 spots in the KenPom rankings. Their offense still isn’t the best, but they’ve started to shoot it better, they move the ball well, and they hit their free throws. Defensively, they’re one of the best in the league, which isn’t surprising given Ogden’s mentorship under Rick Barnes and Chris Beard.

I really like this play when you only need two wins and they’ve proven they can compete and beat the best teams in the league.

2019 ACC Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

All 15 teams make the field, Top 9 get byes, Top 4 get double byes. All games played in Charlotte. Games start on Tuesday and conclude on Saturday. All games on either ESPN, ESPN2, or ESPNU.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorites

Virginia +125

Duke +195

Other Contenders

UNC +380

Darkhorse Candidates

Virginia Tech +1300

Florida State +1325

Louisville +3500

Clemson +6600

NC State +8500

Syracuse +8500

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Miami +25000

Notre Dame +30000

Georgia Tech +30000

Wake Forest +50000

Pitt +50000

Boston College +50000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Excluded: Virginia, Duke, UNC, Florida State, VT, Louisville, Syracuse

Syracuse might actually not be a lock, but if it’s close, Syracuse pretty much always gets in don’t they?

Man, this is my first high-major one of these and I just realized how much I’m going to have to hide my disdain for mediocre teams in these leagues.

NC State is the answer here. They’ve had to do very little this season, but there is some upside to the Wolfpack making it. They create chaos and they’ve got some good players. But they’re an inconsistent bunch and it annoys me to no end that the majority would put them in the tournament at this moment.

Best Bet

UNC +380

I feel like I’m missing a big injury or something. I get why Virginia is the favorite since they tied for the championship and they’ll only have to play one of the other Top 3 (or possibly none).

What I don’t get is being granted this gift that you can get nearly double the return on UNC than you can on Duke, who may not have Zion still and will for sure not have Marques Bolden.

Ol’ Roy has made the championship game of this tourney 8 of the last 12 years. If they were to catch Virginia in the title game, it would be a challenge for sure. I didn’t think they really played all that poorly against the Cavs in their one meeting this year, they just couldn’t get anything to go down late in the game.

I don’t really trust any of the teams in that third tier. VT and FSU never seem to beat the big dogs away from their home floor, Louisville has been stumbling lately, Clemson and NC State can’t get out of their own way, and Syracuse has won like one game in the ACC Tournament ever.