College Basketball Conference Tournament Betting: Surprise Teams To Watch For
As college basketball’s regular season winds down bettors start to shift their attention to conference tournaments. For a majority of leagues, there’s only one bid up for grabs and each year we see a handful of unexpected tourney winners. Let’s take a lot at a few teams that don’t necessarily have stellar regular season resumes but do have enough ability to win their respective conference tournaments.
San Diego State Aztecs
League: Mountain West (Starts Wednesday, March 13)
Record: 19-10, 11-5
Comment: Folks were calling for head coach Brian Dutcher’s job after the Aztecs at one point sat a mediocre 10-8 and 2-3 in MWC play. Even worse, their fifth, sixth and seventh losses came by a combined 59 points to Brown, Boise State and Air Force. But SDSU started to show flashes of the defensive-first mindset that carried the program during the Steve Fisher era. The Aztecs enter tonight’s game vs. Fresno having won nine of 11; five of those wins the opposition failed to top 60 points. Nevada and recently Utah State have hogged the MWC headlines but San Diego State — with wins against both teams — is in good enough form to make a run in next week’s tournament in Las Vegas.
Weber State Wildcats
League: Big Sky (Starts Wednesday, March 13)
Record: 16-13, 10-8
Comment: It looked like another typical season in the Big Sky with Montana and Weber State as the class of the league. The Wildcats opened conference play 7-1 but have since lost seven of 10. Of those seven losses, four came by four points or less. And WSU’s statistical profile in league play (3rd in both offensive and defensive efficiency) shows its a bit unfortunate to be 10-8. Two winnable home games to close out the regular season should put Weber among the top four seeds which all receive a first round bye. Also note that the core of this year’s rotation got destroyed in last year’s opening round game, 80-55 vs. Northern Colorado. Talent and pedigree is there for a better showing this season.
Saint Louis Billikens
League: Atlantic-10 (Starts Wednesday, March 13)
Record: 19-12, 10-8
Comment: Heading into the season, the Billikens were picked to win the A-10 by the league’s coaches. And they looked the part after starting 14-4, 5-0 including wins over Seton Hall, Butler, and Oregon State and competitive losses to Pittsburgh and Houston. But things started to go south after that. Carte’Are Gordon transferred midseason; another black eye on Travis Ford’s tumultuous tenure. The top four seeds in the A-10 Tournament get a bye, which with only two games remaining means SLU will likely have to win the dreaded four games in four days. However, the A-10 Tournament is a notoriously up-for-grabs event. Over the last five years, the winning seeds have been 4, 5, 4, 4, and 3.
League: MAC (Starts Monday, March 11)
Record: 13-16, 5-12
Comment: Ever since I wrote a piece about Ohio being the worst point spread team in the country, the Bobcats have done nothing but cover numbers (4-0 ATS). As I discussed, little to nothing went right for much of Ohio’s regular season but of late, we’ve witnessed a 5-12 team play more like they were 12-5. They took down a quality Bowling Green squad, covered at Kent State, destroyed Akron, and gave league heavyweight Buffalo all it could handle in a 82-79 loss last night. The Bobcats are playing on Day 1 of the MAC Tournament which means a title run is unlikely. But don’t be surprised if they sneak out two victories and slip into the semifinals.