As conference tournaments play out over the course of this week, I wanted to provide some insight surrounding betting totals and where there could be opportunities to capitalize on current trends on a team-by-team basis within conference tournament play. I preface this by saying that for a lot of these programs, it'll be the third or fourth time playing one another, and matchups are now in a completely different setting than they were throughout the regular season. What doesn't change though? What coaches try to do offensively or defensively. Referees are still going to make themselves as relevant within the game as possible. Teams still have to score more points than the other team to win OR just prevent the other team from scoring. The setting and circumstances may change but the systems and styles remain consistent, which is why I prefer betting totals, especially this late in the season.
Here are some trending positions that I believe are worth evaluating during this week. Analysis is based on the results from this season in conference play.
American Athletic Conference (41-39 over/under record this season)
Cincinnati overs are 12-2 (85%) this season. The Bearcats open up conference play against SMU, who they beat in their lone matchup this season 76-69, going over the total of 142.5. That’s the highest total Cincinnati has seen in conference this season, and they have only gone under twice this season (two matchups in the same week in early February), rattling off seven straight over wins during the past month. When you look at Cincinnati statistically, there’s not a whole lot that jumps out at you whatsoever. A nugget of positivity, they’re top 50 in the nation in offensive rebound percentage.
Memphis unders are 11-4 (73%) this season. Memphis will play the winner of Eastern Carolina University and UCF for their first matchup of the conference tournament. The under is 3-1 in matchups this season versus ECU & UCF, with the one game going over due to Memphis scoring their season high points total (96 points) against UCF on February 1st. The Tigers play some of the toughest defense in the country and make it extremely difficult for offenses to get comfortable (third in the nation in defensive effective FG%). Not only are they great defensively, but they struggle to shoot the ball consistently (153rd in the nation in effective FG%). Their matchup is scheduled to be a late one on Friday evening.
Atlantic Coast Conference (67-52-2 over/under/push record)
Florida State University overs are 11-2-2 (84%) in conference play this year. FSU went under their highest total of the season (153 points) against UNC, and went over their lowest total of 129 points (against Virginia, they went over with 141 points). Florida State has been one of the more under the radar teams this season and will absolutely be making noise in the tournament. This team is fifth in adjusted offensive efficiency, along with a top 20 team in offensive rebound percentage, 3-PT% and defending inside the arc.
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Big Ten Conference (57-77-2 over/under/push record)
Michigan unders are 13-4 (76%) this season. Michigan is a team that is tremendous on both sides of the ball, sitting top 10 in both adjusted offensive efficiency and adjusted defensive efficiency. Since the beginning of February, Michigan has gone over the total once, and currently is on a five game under streak (highest total in that stretch has been 154 points, lowest was 138 points). Their recent five game stretch of unders included teams like Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan State. Michigan wants to beat you in the half court and pick you apart defensively, which bodes well when it comes to under scenarios.
Southland Conference (18-28 over/under record)
Abilene Christian overs are 11-4 (73%) this season. The Wildcats have gone over in 10 of their last 11 games dating back to January 20th, averaging north of 80 points per game during that stretch. With three other programs having similar over records, the Southland Conference has all the pieces for an entertaining tournament. Overzealous? Perhaps.
Summit League Recap
It wouldn't be March officially without a bit of painful march madness recap. Last week, I provided my outlook on the Summit League conference tournament, which concluded Tuesday night as Oral Roberts defeated NDSU 75-72 to advance as an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. I had two futures for the Summit, South Dakota State University and South Dakota, both ended up losing in iconic March fashion during the semifinals. Here’s the buzzer beater to end SDSU’s run:
To add to the Summit sorrows, South Dakota gave up a 12 point halftime lead to NDSU and eventually lost by four. Not all was lost however, as I also addressed totals within the conference this season heading into the tournament. Overs finished with a 6-1 record during the Summit League tournament. One of the best pieces of advice I received early on when it came to sports betting is “don’t ever get too up or too down based on results. Good bets lose and bad bets win, it’s just the nature of the beast.”
Beware of the Mush of March