Power 6 Conference Tournament Bets and Predictions for College Basketball
Champ Week is here! Three automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament have already been won. Over the next seven days 29 more auto-bids will be awarded to conference tournaments champions. The ‘Power Six’ major conference tournaments begin this week and I’m giving my pick to win and a sleeper team for all six tournaments.
I wrote a similar article last year and we crushed it. If you had bet one unit on each of my picks and sleepers for the Power Six conferences, you would have profited just shy of 17 units. Overall, we nailed three of the six conference tournaments. In both the Big Ten and SEC my pick beat my sleeper in the championship game. In the ACC my sleeper won the tournament. Of the other three conferences I whiffed on, two saw what’s known as bid-stealers win the tournaments. Georgetown and Oregon State were nowhere near the bubble - their only shot at an NCAA Tournament appearance was to defy all expectations and win their conference tournaments... and they did just that. Expect the unexpected in March.
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My pick: Duke -125 (CZR)
Not a great price, but Duke is by far the best team in a very down year for the ACC. Coming off an embarasing and frankly hilarious loss to rival North Carolina in Coach K's final game at Cameron Indoor, Duke's nerves and tightness should be out the window now. I'd like to see Paolo Banchero get more aggressive on offense, as basically nobody in the league can guard him one on one.
Sleeper: Notre Dame +1000 (CZR)
The Irish are the #2 seed and start on the other side of the bracket from Duke. They aren't a sexy team, but they do everything a typical Mike Brey team does best: best 3pt shooting team in conference, pass the ball well, don't turn the ball over, and don't foul on defense.
My pick: Purdue +220 (DK)
Motivation goes a long way in this tournament, and Purdue should be plenty motivated after falling one game short of winning a share of the regular season title. The biggest scare on their side of the bracket is Wisconsin, who beat Purdue twice this year (behind a career game from Johnny Davis and a banked three from Chucky Hepburn). In a neutral site tournament setting I'll ride with the Boilermakers' size, rebounding, shooting and free throw advantages.
Sleeper: Michigan +2800 (FD)
Michigan would need to win four games in four days, but they did it in 2017 and 2018. With Juwan Howard back from suspension, I could see a possibility for a magical run.
My pick: Texas Tech +380 (FD)
This tournament has been mostly dominated by Kansas and Iowa State, so it takes courage to go against the grain. However, the Texas Tech Red Raiders have been the best team in the Big 12 by my eye test. Baylor has never won the Big 12 tournament and now they can't stay healthy. Kansas is the justifiable favorite but they sure look erratic at times. Texas Tech will bring it on defense every single game, and even when their offense is off they are hardly ever out of games. Three of their six league losses came by only one possession. I trust Mark Adams to come up with great gameplans and make a statement in his first year as head coach in Lubbock.
Sleeper: Texas +650 (FD)
The Longhorns swept TCU and split with Kansas. Their path to the finals is actually pretty achievable. Chris Beard may get his team to hit the reset button and go for back to back Big 12 tournament titles.
My pick: Villanova +165 (FD)
Jay Wright's Wildcats have won four of the past six Big East tournaments. Senior point guard Collin Gillespie is shooting 43% from three and 92% from the free throw line. When it comes down to crunch time I trust Gillespie more than anyone else in the conference.
Sleeper: Marquette +800 (DK)
Shaka Smart won the Big 12 tournament at Texas last year. This year, Smart's Marquette team had a 7-game winning streak in the middle of Big East play in January. They've been on and since then, but can they hit the reset button and string together 3 big wins now?
My pick: Arizona +100 (BS)
Tommy Lloyd is just used to winning conference tournaments. As an assistant coach at Gonzaga he won 8 of the past 10 WCC tournaments and 16 of his 21 seasons in Spokane. Now in Tucson, his Arizona team leads the Pac 12 in effective field goal percentage both offensively and defensively. Arizona is by far the best team in the conference, and if they put their heart into it I have no doubt they can win this tournament.
Sleeper: Arizona State +25000 (FD)
Rather than pick between a middling trio of UCLA, USC or Colorado who each have byes, I'll take a longshot severely underpriced on FanDuel. The other major books have ASU priced between +4000 to +7000. Obviously ASU has the toughest path with a second round game against Arizona, but Arizona State has been hot recently and crazier things have happened (like Oregon State winning the Pac 12 tournament last year). Arizona State has been the 12th best team in the country since February 12, according to Bart Torvik's customizable T-Rank.
My pick: Kentucky +200 (FD)
John Calipari's Wildcats have won four of the past six SEC tournaments. Big man Oscar Tshiebwe is going to win a National Player of the Year award. With TyTy Washington and Sahvir Wheeler both healthy, Kentucky may be the best team in the country.
Sleeper: Tennessee +400 (BS)
The Vols have only lost one SEC game since January 18th. If they get past Kentucky I think they go on to win the championship game as well.
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