College Basketball Betting: Big Sky Conference Tournament Preview
All 11 Big Sky teams will do battle at this year’s conference tournament in Boise, Idaho starting Wednesday. The bottom six teams play in the first round while the top five seeds have a first round bye. The Big Sky was much stronger this season with as many as eight teams vying for a winning record and postseason berth. Last season, the league ranked 27th according to KenPom but skyrocketed to 17th this year.
Favorite – With perennial heavyweight Montana losing three of four to close out the regular season, the Grizzlies enter the postseason as the third seed behind second seed Northern Colorado and champ Eastern Washington. UNC is the most complete of the three teams having ranked first in offensive efficiency and second in defensive efficiency. They were also a league-best +9.1 in scoring margin. Eastern Washington was a more modest +4.8 while Montana was +6.4. So while EWU won the regular season title the Eagles benefited greatly from two overtime wins and four others by three points or less. Unfortunately for Northern Colorado, it will likely play Montana in the semifinals. The Grizzlies spent much of the season as the Big Sky’s top team and boast the largest fan base in the league that is within reasonable driving distance (6 hours) of Boise. UNC has little to no fan base and is an 11-hour drive from the tournament’s location.
Darkhorse – In terms of favorable draws out of the teams that play in the first round, the winner of the Weber State-Sacramento State matchup has a chance to make some noise. As mentioned, Eastern Washington was fortunate to earn the top seed and of the four games they played against the Wildcats and Hornets, three were decided in the last minute. Weber State had pedigree and proximity (4 hours from Boise) in its favor while Sacramento State plays a slow, bogged down style that can frustrate a team like Eastern Washington that prefers to play with tempo.
What to Bet – Thanks to some soft scheduling, Portland State closed out the year with six straight wins. Four of those games were at home, and four were against the four worst defenses in the Big Sky. It resulted in the Vikings averaging a staggering 1.16 points per possession. That stretch aided in PSU finishing second in the Big Sky in offensive efficiency. Perhaps we see some regression against Montana State who prefers a slower pace and does a good job and not allowing offensive rebounds which is the basis for Portland State’s offense. And the Bobcats are one of the weakest offensive teams in the Big Sky. I’ll be looking to bet UNDER on any total 149 or higher.
Odds to Win Tournament
Northern Colorado +160
Eastern Washington +300
Portland State +850
Southern Utah +1200
Montana State +1500
Sacramento State +2000
Northern Arizona +3000
Weber State +5000
Idaho State +10000
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