2019 Conference Tournaments

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.

 

2019 SWAC Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

8 of 10 teams make the bracket. Better luck next year to Alabama A&M and Mississippi Valley State.

From there, it’s a pretty standard bracket. The first round is at home sites, the semis and final are in Birmingham.

The first round is broadcast on streams from the home teams, the semis are on ESPN3, and the final is on ESPNU on Saturday.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorites

Prairie View +115

Texas Southern +145

Other Contenders

Grambling State +600

Darkhorse Candidates

Jackson State +1150

Arkansas Pine-Bluff +2250

Alabama State +3000

Southern +6000

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Alcorn State +12500

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

It honestly doesn’t matter that much because the winner will likely have to play in Dayton and probably won’t be much of a problem for whatever 1 seed they play if they make it out of Dayton, but Prairie View has the potential to make things interesting.

They went 17-1 against the league and played some relatively close games with the Top 100 teams they played in the non-con. It’s worth noting that they played 12 of their 13 non-con games on the road and that can have a negative effect after about 8 straight road games. They play fast and they’ve got a ton of JUCO/transfer guys that have clearly meshed together well as the season has gone on.

Texas Southern has a very similar story, but a couple of these guys won a First Four game last year and didn’t have the worst showing against Xavier in the Big Dance. Johnny Jones being the coach adds an extra element, given his past with LSU.

Best Bet

Prairie View +115

I hate everything here and I hate taking another favorite, but the SWAC is historically pretty chalky and you’ve got the Panthers here at 17-1 with their only loss coming on the road to the 2 seed after blowing a 21-point second half lead.

They say that defense wins championships, but that’s shown to be much less important in this tournament in years past. The two clear best offenses in the league are the two favorites, so here we are.

Obviously this tournament is everything to every team in the league, but I imagine the Panthers will be playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder. They clearly displayed themselves as the class of the league this year and their only slip-up was that game at Texas Southern where they blew a huge lead against the team that has been king of the SWAC the last few years. Add that on top of  TSU bouncing them out of the tourney last year – Prairie View was the higher seed – and I think it results in the Panthers coming out for blood this March, specifically in the likely championship matchup.

I gave Grambling a long look at +600, but they’ve got a tough opening game and it’s basically a guarantee that they’d have to go through both the top seeds to win it all.

2019 MAC Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

All 12 teams make the field, Top 4 get a bye. The first round is played at the home sites for higher-seeded teams. The last three rounds will be played at the Q in Cleveland.

First round is on Monday, with the final three rounds starting on Thursday and concluding on Saturday.

You can see the TV schedule below.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

Buffalo -230

Other Contenders

Toledo +300

Darkhorse Candidates

Bowling Green +1250

Kent State +2500

Central Michigan +3300

Akron +3300

Ball State +6000

Eastern Michigan +6600

Northern Illinois +6600

Miami (OH) +8000

Ohio +10000

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Western Michigan +50000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Excluded: Buffalo

The Bulls are simply playing for seeding in this tournament. A few weeks ago, I probably would’ve said Bowling Green here. They were on a tear and play a fun style of basketball, but they’ve stumbled to the finish.

Toledo has been the more consistent team, though, and I’d say has established themselves as the second-best team in a very competitive league. HC Tod Kowalczyk deserves it. Kowalczyk turned Green Bay around a decade ago, but was never quite able to get to the NCAAT. He’s done the same at Toledo, taking the Rockets out of the depths of being one of the worst D-1 teams out there and now putting them near the top of the league. He’s got an experienced team with a good backcourt this year and it’d be great to see him make the MAC a two-bid league.

Best Bet

The Field (vs. Buffalo) +170

It’s the only bet that really makes sense to me. I mean, you can take one of the “darkhorse candidates” if you’d like, but I don’t know how much you can really justify taking one over the other. They’ve all been good at points, they’ve all had rough stretches, and they’re tough to predict.

I’d rather take every team not named Buffalo. The Bulls are clearly the class of the league, but they’re far from untouchable. Of course they should be the favorite, but I think you’re a lunatic if you lay that much juice on them to win. They’ve lost a couple games and played several other close ones on the road.

The Bulls also don’t have the same level of motivation as the rest of the field. Their ticket has already been punched to the dance. I don’t care what anybody says, they’re not going to have the same desperation to win this thing. They’ll have a relatively decent chance to lose every game. And this isn’t a Gonzaga situation where they’re already in the tournament, but still beat everybody easily. The Zags beat teams by 30 regardless of the location. Buffalo has been challenged much more frequently.

I don’t love Toledo at +300 either. The Rockets are solid, but they’ll probably be in a dog fight every round.

2019 MEAC Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

All 11 teams make the field, the Top 6 get byes. The tournament is played entirely in Norfolk, but is not Norfolk State’s home arena. Starts on Monday and ends on Saturday. In terms of when the games are played, it’s very weird. The only rounds that are completed in one day are the semis and championship. You can see for yourself in the bracket below.

The championship is aired live on ESPN2. Everything else is on something called Flo Hoops.

THE BRACKET

meac.jpg

THE ODDS

Favorite

Norfolk State +130

Other Contenders

North Carolina A&T +250

NC Central +350

Bethune Cookman +550

Howard +700

Darkhorse Candidates

Morgan State +4000

Savannah State +4000

South Carolina State +5000

Coppin State +8000

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Delaware State +30000

Maryland Eastern Shore +30000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

Well, umm, ya know, it’s just that…the MEAC is the conference where the teams are the least amount of good. I’m not saying they don’t have a chance to pull a major upset. Perhaps you remember Norfolk beating Missouri in a 2/15 game a few years back. But I will say it’s going to be very, very difficult. They haven’t made it to the official first round in a couple of years.

The real answer here I guess would just be the best team, which is Norfolk State. However, if you want the team that would make one of the Dayton games entertaining, it’s Savannah State. Once they get past halfcourt, they’re pretty much ready to launch a three. Sure, they miss most of them, but sometimes they don’t!

Best Bet

Howard +700

It’s really hard to pass on NC Central after what they’ve done under Levelle Moton in this tournament, but I’d rather make a smaller play on Howard here. The things that draw me to the Bison are: 1) They had the most experience coming back from last year 2) They just finished the season winning four straight road games, including at Norfolk on Senior Day, and 3) They can flat out score. RJ Cole leads that scoring attack, he’s super efficient, and a great passer to boot. I want him on my side.

One of the negatives here is the janky schedule. The Bison will play their quarters game on Thursday. If they win, their opponent will have rested on Thursday, giving them an edge over Howard. This is not a big play for me.

2019 America East Tournament Betting Preview

THE FORMAT

8 of 9 teams make the bracket with deepest apologies to New Hampshire. Every game is played on home courts. After the first round, everything is re-seeded, like it should be. Quarters are on Saturday, semis on Tuesday, and the championship game is at 11 AM EST next Saturday.

The first two rounds are on ESPN+, with the final airing live on ESPN2.

THE BRACKET

THE ODDS

Favorite

Vermont -230

Other Contenders

Stony Brook +335

Darkhorse Candidates

Hartford +850

UMBC +1150

Albany +4000

UMass Lowell +8500

Unfortunately Irrelevant

Binghamton +30000

Maine +50000

WHO TO BACK

NCAA Bracket Maximizer

It’s obviously Vermont. UMBC of course pulled the hugest of huge upsets last year in the NCAAT, but Jairus Lyles and KJ Maura are no longer on the roster. If we’re being honest, the America East is not a very fun league if you appreciate things like playing with a good tempo and scoring. It also continues to be the most annoying league by calling itself the America East and not the American East like a normal person.

Best Bet

UMBC +1150

Disregard what I just said because the Retrievers have some sort of voodoo over the Catamounts. UMBC pulled the big upset over Vermont last year in Burlington and have swept them this year, despite being big underdogs. It’s tough to know how the bracket is going to shake out, but UMBC has the 3 seed so they’re not in bad position. They also split with the 2 seed Stony Brook this year. Smallest of plays on the Retrievers this year.