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Before the Big Dance officially gets underway in just over a week with the First Four battling it out for the right to be in the field of 64, conference tournaments are already getting fired up across the country. Some of the smaller conferences, such as the Atlantic Sun and Big South will already be wrapped up with their tournaments before the big dawgs get underway, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t value left in betting on conference tournaments. Let’s take a look at the main five conference tournaments scheduled to tip-off this week and see where we can identify some value.
Favorite value bet to win the ACC Tournament
Virginia Cavaliers +750
Coming off their first regular-season ACC title in program history, Florida State remains the team to beat in the ACC as the tournament gets underway this week and the odds reflect accordingly, sitting at +200 as of this writing. After a rocky start to conference play that included losing four out of five games to close January, the defending National Champion Cavaliers looked poised to fall into the hangover trap and go quietly into the night (NIT). That’s when the Cavaliers leaned into what they know best, stifling defense and uncanny ball movement to close out the regular season with eight straight wins and securing a top-four seed. They will now get a four-day rest as they prepare for their latest title run. At some of the longest odds they’ve had in this tournament in years, I love the value they currently provide at nearly 8 to 1.
Favorite value bet to win the Big 12 Tournament
Texas Tech Red Raiders +700
One of the only certainties heading into the Big Dance, short of a first-round exit this week in Kansas City, is the Kansas Jayhawks will have a No. 1 seed. With an inter-conference record of 17-1 (19-12 ATS on the season), the Jayhawks remain the class of the conference and enter Wednesday with the shortest odds, currently listed at +105. While Baylor is just behind them at +230, I have my eye on another darling of the 2019 dance that I think is also undervalued and head into the week at 9-9 in conference play and log-jammed into the middle of seeding, the Red Raiders. While they’ll likely draw the Jayhawks in the second round, they took them to the wire just three days ago and if it were not for a slow start, could’ve secured a win. I think the experienced and well-coached Red Raiders are the only team left in the field with value remaining at 7 to 1 odds.
Favorite value bet to win the Big Ten Tournament
Ohio State Buckeyes +950
In what has been one of the most competitive conferences in all of college basketball this season, the Big Ten tournament will get underway in Indianapolis on Wednesday with Minnesota/Northwestern followed up by Indiana/Nebraska. The usual suspects are at the top with Maryland (+300), Michigan State (+350), and Wisconsin (+440) drawing most of the action as the opening tip approaches. Looking down the board a bit further, the Ohio State Buckeyes come into this tournament with one of the best ATS records (19-12-0) in the conference and, prior to a road loss to Michigan State on Sunday, finished the season as one of the hottest teams in the conference winning six of their last seven, covering in each of their wins. Led by junior forward Kaleb Wesson, the Buckeyes at nearly 10 to 1 odds provide a ton of value.
Favorite value bet to win the Pac-12 Tournament
UCLA Bruins +750
Prior to losing a dog fight against cross-town rival USC on Saturday, the UCLA Bruins were not only one of the hottest teams in the Pac-12, but in the entire country. After starting conference play slow losing three of four, following losing three straight before conference games even started, the Bruins have stormed back to win nine of 11 including sweeping both the Arizona and Washington schools in the month of February. They have also covered six straight contests to close out the regular season and look like a team that’s getting hot at exactly the right time. In what once again is a down Pac-12, take the Bruins as one of the best value plays of the week.
Favorite value bet to win the SEC Tournament
Florida Gators +600
It’s hard to pick a team not named Kentucky to win the SEC tournament in any season, but especially in this one. At under 2 to 1 odds (+190), the Wildcats value is gone, but I do have my eye on another team that will be rocking royal blue this week in Nashville. After starting the season as one of the highest-ranked teams in the conference, the Gators stumbled a bit out of the gates but have at times down the stretch showed glimpses of being who we thought they were. Though they didn’t pull out the win, they played Kentucky to a one-point loss on Saturday which should be a major confidence boost should they meet them in the semi-final. They have the athletes and coaching staff to do it, but the Gator’s ability to stay disciplined and move the ball efficiently should tell the story in this one.