This article will hopefully lead you down a path towards cashing in on some of these conference championships. It is an interesting week because some teams lay low because they already have a spot in the “Big Dance”, but some teams play especially hard knowing they may need a win or two to get in. Plus, I will include some “sleeper” teams than are playing well at the right time of the year or may just get hot at the right time.
Big East Tournament - Madison Square Garden, New York, NY Starts March 11th
3/1 Seton Hall
Villanova is the favorite here because they are a good team, but mainly because of their past history in conference tourney play. Creighton with there sweep of Seton Hall became the number one seed in the tournament for the first time since joining the Big East. The Blue Jays are only 6-5 on the road this season and winning the regular season title might just be enough for them as they are probably a 2 or 3 seed in the NCAA tournament regardless. Seton Hall were 7-2 in the Big East on the road thanks in part to guard Myles Powell who averages 22 points a game.
SLEEPERS Marquette & Providence
Marquette has lost 6 of their last 7 but have a player in Markus Howard (averages 28 points a game) who can carry a team to the title game. The Eagles also are 12th in the country in 3-point shooting and 21st in rebounds per game.
Providence have won six games in a row and guard Luwane Pipkins who averages only 11 points per game has been on a tear scoring 12, 23, 27, and 24 in his last four.
BIG EAST CONFERENCE WINNER
Seton Hall Pirates +300
Big 12 Tournament - Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO Starts March 11th
11/2 West Virginia
8/1 Texas Tech
Kansas and head coach Bill Self just closed out winning another regular season title on a wave of winning 16 straight games. Baylor has had a wonderful season but has lost 3 of its last 5 games and one of those two wins was in overtime at home.
SLEEPER Texas Tech
The Red Raiders get the Texas Longhorns on Thursday in first round action of the Big 12 Tournament. Texas Tech just lost two tough games this past week to Baylor in overtime and to Kansas in which they were tied with a minute to go in the game. In fact, Texas Tech has lost four in a row, but before that had won 5 of their previous 6 games. This is a shot in the dark but, let us not forget that Texas Tech played in the national championship game last year and show some moxie and play great and play their way into the NCAA’s.
BIG 12 CONFERENCE WINNER
Texas Tech Red Raiders at 8/1 odds
ACC Tournament - Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC - Starts March 10th
11/4 Florida St
40/1 North Carolina
Duke is only 3-3 in their last 6 games but, Vernon Carey and Tre Jones have the capabilities to bring home a championship. Those two this season have combined for 34 points, 13 boards and 8 assists a game. Florida State has a lot to play for considering they could still get a 1 seed in the NCAA’s if Dayton were to slip. I get the feeling everyone has written the defending champs Virginia Cavaliers off, which isn’t a smart thing to do. Virginia has won 11 of 12 and help their opponents in their last five games to 56, 53, 50, 44, and 54 points.
SLEEPER North Carolina
The Tar heels season has been disappointing but do have wins against Oregon, Alabama and UCLA. They average the second most rebounds per game in the nation and Roy Williams gets Virginia Tech in the first round (a team UNC lost to by just 2 points in Blacksburg, Virginia). The only way UNC will get to the “Big Dance” is to win the ACC tourney so look for them to play spirited and loose. UNC has played extremely tough the past month so playing in the state of North Carolina you just never know.
ACC CONFERENCE WINNER
Florida St Seminoles 11/4
Pacific 12 Tournament - T Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV - March 11th
11/1 Arizona St
40/1 Oregon St
Oregon is led by standout senior guard Payton Pritchard. Pritchard is averaging 21 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds per game. He also is shooting 47% from the field in leading the Ducks. Oregon is the only team in the Pac 12 that has a record over .500 on the road. Arizona has been awful losing four of their last five games. However, if the Wildcats can get their claws on Oregon for a third time this season (Oregon won both by 1 point, both in overtime) mark my words they will take them down.
The Buffaloes have had a nice season but have lost four in a row and need a major pick-me-up. They have quality wins this season beating Oregon, Dayton and have beaten USC twice. They are led by McKinley Wright who averages 14 points, and 5 rebounds and assists a game. Colorado is more than capable of making a run in the Pac 12 tourney in Sin City.
PAC 12 CONFERENCE WINNER
Arizona Wildcats at 3/1
Atlantic 10 Tournament - Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY - March 11th
6/1 Rhode Island
25/1 St Bonaventure
40/1 St Louis
Dayton is amazing in every single way as they went 18-0 in conference play. The Flyers rank number one in field goal percentage at 53. Obi Toppin is my player of the year as he averages 20 points, 8 rebounds a game and shoots a remarkable 63% from the field. There are no sleepers here because why should I even waste the time trying to come up with one.
ATLANTIC 10 WINNER
Dayton Flyers at 1/3 odds
SEC Tournament - Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN - March 11th
15/1 Miss St
40/1 South Carolina
Coach Calipari and his Wildcats were an impressive 8-2 on the road and won the regular season title going away by 3 games over Auburn and LSU. Auburn boasts a solid 25-6 record and could win this if they get play out of guys like Samir Doughtry on Saturday at Tennessee. Doughtry had eight 3 pointers in a rout over the Vols.
The Gators have underachieved this season and that includes blowing an 18-point lead on Saturday at home to Kentucky (lost 2 games to Kentucky in two weeks by a total of 6 points). Florida may have to impress the committee in this situation with a couple of tournament victories. I can see them getting to the conference championship knowing they need to still get some work done.
Kentucky Wildcats at 2/1 odds
Big 10 Tournament, BankersLife Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN - March 11th
7/2 Michigan St
11/2 Penn St
9/1 Ohio St
This conference has been predictable more than any other major conference because no one can win on the road. Michigan St is surging as Xavier Tillman has been a beast down low for the Spartans and has led them in rebounding in all but three games this season. To my point I’ve cancelled out Iowa and Illinois because they have been awful on the road in conference. Maryland is a great team but has lost 3 of its last 5 which is actually quite surprising.
The Badgers are a good team who tied for the Big 10 regular season crown. They are my sleeper here because of their price. I’ll roll the dice anytime with a team with those credentials at 20/1 odds.
BIG 10 WINNER
Michigan St Spartans at 7/2 odds
GOOD LUCK!! Harry.