Conference Tournament Picks

Its conference tournament time for college basketball and that can only mean one thing:

Its time to start cashing in.

The regular season for college basketball is not easy to bet. The landscape can be volatile. Teams are up and down, hot and cold, and its tough to keep up with on a night to night basis. But by the time conference tournaments roll around, team’s have amassed enough of a resume for us to get a feel for who the potential contenders are. I’ve been doing some March Madness betting prep and its time to get our feet wet and put some money down on a few conference tournaments. But before we get to that, I have an interesting nugget I want to give you. Here’s a bit of interesting research I came across that you may find helpful when it comes to filling out your bracket later this month:

Should you fade conference tournament champs in the Big Dance?

Personally, I find the conference tournaments to be a tad overrated. To me, I’m much more concerned with my team winning the regular season conference title, then I’m on to what the team is gonna do in the big tourney. At the end of the day, people don’t remember teams for what they did in conference tournaments. The point of me bringing this topic up is this: I often think that people suffer recency bias when it comes to filling out their brackets after watching conference tournaments.

Often times, teams that win their tourney don’t even sniff a sweet sixteen. Plenty of times, teams that looked lack luster in their tourney go on to make deep runs in the Big Dance. I think the reasons for this are numerous. Some teams are looking for extra rest, while some teams are fighting for a better seed or even to make the tournament period. Coaches have different philosophies and teams have different personalities. Also, conference tournaments feature teams that are often playing each other for a third time while the NCAA tourney pits teams not use to one another in games. I thought it would be interesting to back this thought up with some data. I wanted to research for myself the amount of Elite Eight teams in the recent years that did not win their conference tournaments. Luckily, I stumbled across a blog that already researched this data so I credit for finding these numbers:

From 2013-2017, 18 of the 40 Elite Eight teams were not regular season OR conference champions. 11 of the 20 Final Four teams were also NEITHER regular season or conference tournament champions that season.

I say all this as a friendly reminder to not get too caught up in what happens this week in your March Madness office pool. Instead, take a look at things such as: team’s full body of work, coaching, potential matchups, guard play, experience, team defense, and a team’s ceiling based on overall talent level.

Conference Tournament Picks

I’m not going to pick any Mid-major conferences considering most of them are already over and I’ve put more time into watching real conferences. Unfortunately we missed the start of the ACC tournament today and the Big Ten tournament all together so those two aren’t included. Here’s some plays I’m looking to make:

Big 12: Kansas +200

Kansas is the favorite to win the tournament but this isn’t as chalky of a play as it might seem. A lot of people seem to like West (Press) Virginia at +325 and Texas Tech at +400. The main reason I’m rolling with Rock Chalk Jayhawk is they’re coming off an embarrassing drumming by Oklahoma State where they lost 82-64. Bill Self challenged his team after the game and I get the feeling they may be looking to gain some confidence from this tourney. Kansas is the most talented team in the conference, so I like they’re chances if they’re looking to get hot.

Pac-12: Arizona +175

This may feel a little boring taking a second favorite in a row, but I have my reasons. There shouldn’t be a more motivated team in the country right now than Arizona. Sean Miller is coaching, telling ESPN, the NCAA, and the FBI to suck it. They could be in full on F everybody mode and we still haven’t seen the emergence of DeAndre Ayton. If he can start playing to his potential, watch out.

Big East: Xavier +325

By all means, this conference should be a 2 team race between Villanova and Xavier. Xavier has been beat down by Nova in both games they’ve played. I’m sure that accounts for why Nova is -115 to win the tournament outright. Can Xavier beat Nova in the championship game? I think they’ll give it their best shot. Unlike Villanova, Xavier has something to prove to themselves and that’s that they can beat that team. Villanova knows what they’re capable of. Xavier should be the hungrier team and I like the longer odds.

SEC: Florida +400, Texas A&M +1000

Alright let’s have a little fun with this one. I’m putting cash down on two teams and I really think you could make a case that about half these teams could win this thing. I picked Florida as the 3rd favorite because Auburn is banged up and I can’t figure out how Tennessee is about to approach this week. Rick Barnes made an interesting comment that during his days at Texas he won a conference tourney title and turned around and lost in the second round. Then he said one year he got knocked out in the conference quarterfinals and his team turned around and made a tourney run. Why mention that?

Florida is playing really well right now. They’re coming off three straight wins against Auburn, Alabama, and Kentucky. Texas A&M is on a three game win streak themselves, coming against Vanderbilt, Georgia, and Alabama. Both these teams were rated highly in the preseason and have yet to play to that potential. Let’s see if they can make a run to save some face.






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