College basketball conference tournaments: Betting prep

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It’s not too early to begin handicapping the conference tournaments in college basketball. Most of the top leagues will hold their playoffs in the second week of March, and there’s still some ball to play before then. But it’s helpful for bettors to collect some recent historical data.

We examined the average seed of the winning team, the number of times the top seed won the tournament and the lowest seed to win each event since 2009. As you begin to move from the regular season into postseason play, use this information as a tool to help make futures plays.

Big East

Average seed of winning team: 3.45

Times the No. 1 seed won: 4

Lowest seed to win: 9

Big East tip: This tournament tends to be where most of the upsets occur. If any coach is best suited to fend off a lower seed, it’s Jay Wright, who has coached three No. 1 seeds to titles.

ACC

Average seed of winning team: 2.18

Times the No. 1 seed won: 5

Lowest seed to win: 5

ACC tip: As you would think, the ACC’s top seeds usually do well because they tend to be some of the best teams in the country. Virginia, the No. 1 seed now, hasn’t reached that status yet but qualifies as an attractive play for ACC and national titles.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett
Virginia coach Tony Bennett
AP

Big Ten

Average seed of winning team: 2.54

Times the No. 1 seed won: 5

Lowest seed to win: 8

Big Ten tip: Another example of the top teams in the country using the tournament to try to lock up a No. 1 seed. That is how we should expect Juwan Howard’s Michigan club to approach the tournament.

Big 12

Average seed of winning team: 2.27

Times the No. 1 seed won: 5

Lowest seed to win: 5

Big 12 tip: Even if Baylor (-225) slips up in the conference tournament, it will still be a top seed in the NCAAs. Don’t punt on this tournament because of Baylor. Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma are available in the 8/1 to 10/1 range.

Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham
Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham
AP

Pac-12

Average seed of winning team: 3.09

Times the No. 1 seed won: 3

Lowest seed to win: 6

Pac-12 tip: Another conference where seeds below 1 and 2 tend to be alive for a title. Oregon’s 5/1 is a result of fewer games played compared with USC (3/2), Colorado (2/1) and UCLA (7/2). That provides some value on the Ducks.

SEC

Average seed of winning team: 2.54

Times the No. 1 seed won: 4

Lowest seed to win: 5

SEC tip: Alabama (+225) is trying to follow the lead of its football program. Can Nate Oats do what Nick Saban did and win a conference title, then a national championship? The Tide have the 3-point shooting and defense to wear multiple crowns in 2021.

Alabama coach Nate Oats
Alabama coach Nate Oats
AP

Atlantic 10

Average seed of winning team: 3.54

Times the No. 1 seed won: 2

Lowest seed to win: 6

A-10 tip: Of all the conferences we examined, this is the one with the lowest average seed of the winning team.

AAC

(Began in 2014)

Average seed of winning team: 2.0

Times the No. 1 seed won: 4

Lowest seed to win: 6

AAC tip: Houston’s current -300 is unplayable from a pure value betting standpoint. It is also too high when motivation handicapping comes into play. With plans for a top seed gone and a third seed built in as the floor, perhaps Houston won’t play the AAC tournament with as much domination as -300 suggests.

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