College Basketball Betting: Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Preview
The Missouri Valley Conference Tournament starts on Thursday at St. Louis’ Enterprise Center. All 10 teams will participate with the top five receiving a first round bye. The MVC is a notoriously slow paced and low scoring league which is often magnified in the postseason. Of last year’s nine conference tournament games, the average game score was only 121 points. On nine occasions, a team failed to top 60 points.
Favorite – Northern Iowa won the regular season and finds itself on the NCAA Tournament bubble thanks to non-conference wins over South Carolina, Colorado, and a five-point loss to West Virginia. After three straight seasons with an offensive rating in the 200’s, the Panthers skyrocketed to 18th. The transformation stems from the rise of sophomore point guard AJ Green who was without question the top player in the MVC this season. But despite its statistically domination, Northern Iowa won the regular season title by only a single game. Loyola-Chicago closed the year 6-1 including an overtime win over the Panthers. In fact, both matchups featured an extra period with the home team eventually prevailing.
Darkhorse – Prior to the season, Missouri State was not only pegged to win the MVC but received 29 of a possible 44 first place votes. But the Bears didn’t handle those lofty expectations well and spent much of conference play hovering around .500. There were however signs as to why MSU garnered a lot of preseason hype. During non-conference play, they lost at Xavier by three, lost to Miami and Buffalo by a combined six points on a neutral floor, and beat Murray State. And to close the year, they won five of eight with the five wins coming by an average of 21 points. Winning by that type of margin in a league noted for low scores and defense is a clear indication this squad is far better than its 15-16, 9-9 record.
What to Bet – Bryan Mullins did a wonderful job in his first season at Southern Illinois; at one point the Salukis were 9-3 in league play. But this is an ultra-young team with three freshmen in the rotation and they simply ran out of steam down the stretch, losing five of six with the lone win coming against 0-18 Evansville. Bradley meanwhile probably deserved better than its 11-7 record but were without Elijah Childs for 12 games. Since his return, the Braves, who won last year’s tournament, have won five of seven. We’ll look to back the more experienced Braves.
Odds to Win Tournament
Northern Iowa -130
Indiana State +625
Missouri State +625
Southern Illinois +3500
Illinois State +12500