Ides of March Madness Betting: Five Conference Faves
The NCAA Division I men’s basketball conference tournaments are to march madness betting what hors d’oeuvre are to a full course dinner. The winner of each tourney gets an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament and a boost in their March madness odds (though the losers still have a shot at receiving one of the 36 at-large bids awarded by the selection committee on Sunday Selection Sunday). There are more conferences that one can count with one’s fingers and toes, but here are arguably the five Big Ones and their respective favorites.
Southeastern Conference. The SEC has come down to ‘Us vs. Them’ in the last few seasons, with ‘Us’ being the Kentucky Wildcats and ‘Them’ the other teams. UK is the favorite to win a third straight SEC tournament led by freshmen Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox, who combine for 37.1 points, 7.6 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game, and 46% field shooting. However, this year the Florida Gators have broken away from the pack on the strength of their defense, which allows 66.2 points per game and 40.7% shooting.
Pac 12. The UCLA Bruins and the Oregon Ducks are the co-favorites to win the Pac-12 conference tournament. And in fact that two would make the perfect basketball machine. The Ducks keeps opposing teams to 65.3 points per game and 40.3% field goal shooting, while the Bruins rank first in the country in points per game and shooting percentage and second in three-point percentage. Moreover, six UCLA players average double-figure points, not to mention that Lonzo Ball may be the best point guard in the NCAA.
Big East. The Big E is home to the 2016 NCAA Tournament National champions and 2016-17 conference regular season champions the Villanova Wildcats – who have march madness betting favorite written all over them. In addition to their fantastic march madness odds, Nova is the odds-on fave to win the Big East tournament. The Wildcats lost last season’s conference tourney to Seton Hall, but this year they will have to be wary of Butler – the only school to sweep Champagne Villanova in the regular season.
Big Ten. The Purdue Boilermakers are the favorites to win the conference tourney thanks in no small part to Caleb Swanigan’s shenanigans, which include 24 double-doubles, and four 20-20 performances. Purdue clinched the Big Ten conference outright championship on March 2nd; their 23 titles is the most in conference history.
Big 12. The Kansas Jayhawks their 13th consecutive regular season championship in their 14th year with head coach Bill Self in late February to tie UCLA’s 1967-1979 record. Universitas Kansiensis has one of the best backcourts in the country, as well as one of the best two-way players in Josh Jackson. KU was seeded No. 2 overall in the NCAA Tournament Bracket and is currently atop both the Associated Press and Coaches poll which does wonders for the march madness odds. All of that and more is what makes the Jayhawks a March madness betting favorite. Needless to say they are also favored to win the Big 12 championship.