College Basketball Betting: Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Preview
The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament starts Wednesday and will be held at a true neutral site, Evansville, Ind. Only the top eight teams will participate and the format heavily favors the top two seeds who need to win only two games to advance to the NCAA Tournament. Down the final weekend of the regular season, perennial league heavyweight Belmont emerged as the top seed, followed by second seed Murray State.
Favorite – There was a sizable gap between Belmont, Murray State, Austin Peay, and the rest of the OVC. The trio lost only four combined games outside of playing one another. It’s almost a guarantee the tournament champ will be one of those three squads. But the gap between the three is ultra-small. Case in point, they all split their regular season meetings. With the venue not providing an edge, it sets up well for value on any market overreaction. Belmont checks in as the highest power rated team, but shouldn’t be higher than -3 vs. Murray State or -6 vs. Austin Peay.
Darkhorse – Eastern Illinois was the lone team in the OVC that proved capable of stepping up in class against the aforementioned trio. The Panthers racked up wins over Murray State and Austin Peay at home and lost to both teams on the road by three and four points, respectively. EIU also closed the season strong with four straight wins. Should they get past Jacksonville State in the first round, they’ll draw Austin Peay and then Murray State.
What to Bet – Jacksonville State’s Ray Harper has a long history of postseason experience dating back to his days at D2 powerhouse Kentucky Wesleyan. This year was a struggle for the Gamecocks (13-18) but they appear to be peaking at the right time with wins in three out of their last four to slip into the tournament. The OVC is an up-tempo league but Harper really pumped the breaks on his team down the stretch with 64, 65, 66, and 63 possessions their last four games. Three of those four went way UNDER the total. EIU showed a similar pattern with four of its last five going UNDER in regulation. Assuming we see something in the range of 137, the UNDER worth a look for their first round matchup.