College Basketball Betting: Mid-Major Conference Tournament Futures
Now that March has officially arrived, the postseason offers an exciting new angle on which to wager: conference tournament futures! These are a special kind of niche, but that’s where we at Three Man Weave thrive (or at least, that’s what we tell ourselves). For today, let’s take a look at several teams who ended up with favorable draws in their respective tournaments for one reason or another – perhaps there’s some value in the futures market on these squads.
Elon Phoenix (Currently +3000 at Westgate)
The 8th seed in the Colonial Athletic Association, Elon may not seem appealing at first glance. After all, the Phoenix went just 4-7 in league play and finished with the league’s worst offense, per KenPom. Look a little closer, though, and there’s some serious appeal here.
Elon is the only CAA squad to play a full February schedule. Yes, somehow that is correct: All nine other teams experienced some sort of multi-week stoppage, and that includes first round opponent Towson, which has not played since Valentine’s Day. The 4 vs. 5 matchup is similar, with Hofstra also sidelined since February 14, and Delaware somehow has not taken the court since January 31.
That leaves top seed James Madison, the tournament’s host and a significant hurdle. The Dukes are less intimidating than expected, though, due to a season-ending knee injury to likely CAA Player of the Year Matt Lewis, robbing JMU of its best scorer and facilitator. That gives the Phoenix a fighting chance should they get past Towson.
Couple that favorable schedule situation with the fact that Elon is a young team playing much better basketball right now (won four straight games to close the season, three of which were on the road), and there’s a real chance the Phoenix could make a run. As the cherry on top, guard Kris Wooten returned to the lineup in the season finale and buried four triples, boosting the potency of an offense that was struggling to generate points at times.
North Dakota State Bison or UMKC Kangaroos (+300 and +2000, respectively, at Westgate)
Both of these teams are very similar: defensive stalwarts in a league of heavy offensive firepower, preferring to play half court basketball over getting into helter-skelter shootouts. NDSU and Kansas City rank 337th and 352nd in adjusted tempo; only one other Summit squad ranks outside of the top 140 (North Dakota is 234th).
It’s hard to say what will happen when these two foes square off in the quarterfinals (possibly eye the under?), but the key part of the draw is that they’re on the same side of the bracket as no. 2 seed South Dakota, who just lost star guard AJ Plitzuweit to a devastating knee injury. That opens up a path for either the Bison or the Kangaroos, so if you have a strong lean between these two, there’s likely some strong value in the futures market.
I lean towards the ‘Roos simply for the extra value. Billy Donlon is a terrific game-planner, and UMKC would likely be a better seed if it had not dealt with its own injuries during the season.
Furman Paladins (+160 at Westgate)
I know the Paladins are the favorite in the SoCon, but I still think their path to the title portends some value. To earn the league’s auto-bid, Furman will only have to beat one of UNC Greensboro, Chattanooga, and East Tennessee State; along with Furman, those three constitute the conference’s top four squads, in my opinion.
Instead, Furman must wrestle with the demon that is Wofford, a thorn in Furman’s side for years now, having lost five of the last six meetings. That includes a last-second heartbreaker this past Saturday and a shocking upset loss in the 2020 SoCon Tournament, so the Paladins should be plenty eager to exorcise their Terrier demons.
It should be noted that if you’re rolling with a favorite like Furman, it might be more worthwhile to go with a simple moneyline rollover instead (bet Furman moneyline in each game with your original wager + the winnings from the previous round), as that may end up paying out better. And of course, shop around to see if you can find a better price elsewhere!
Follow BettorIQ contributor Jim Root @2ndChancePoints.