2019 Atlantic Sun Tournament Betting Preview: Format, Odds, Sleeper
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Lipscomb guard Garrison Mathews
- We're taking a look at the betting odds of the eight-team field in the Atlantic Sun conference tournament, which starts on March 4 on ESPN+.
- Lipscomb is the clear favorite to punch a ticket to the NCAA Tournament, but there is one sleeper I think deserves consideration.
Conference tournament season has arrived!
We will kick things off on Monday when the 2019 Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament tips off with all four first-round games on ESPN+. This is a true one-bid league, as the Atlantic Sun has never sent multiple teams to the dance since its inception in 2002. Interestingly, 11 of the 17 all-time champions (Belmont 5x, Central Florida 2x, East Tennessee State 2x, Florida Atlantic and Troy) no longer compete in the league.
Let’s take a closer look at this year’s field, which consists of the top eight seeds in the conference. Stetson did not qualify. I should also note that North Alabama is not eligible for the NCAA Tournament during its transition from Division II. If it somehow wins, Lipscomb would get the automatic bid, unless Liberty advances further, in which case the Flames would go.
2019 Atlantic Sun Tournament Odds, Format
- Who: Top eight seeds (Stetson did not qualify)
- Format: Single elimination (no byes)
- When: March 4, March 7 and March 10
- Where: Campus sites of higher seed
- How to Watch: ESPN+/ESPN
- Defending Champion: Lipscomb
Who Should Win?
The top two seeds in the conference, Lipscomb and Liberty, are the clear favorites to book a trip to the dance. The Bisons and Flames only lost four combined games in conference play — three fewer than the total losses suffered by No. 3 seed North Florida.
Defending champion Lipscomb, led by the conference’s leading scorer in senior guard Garrison Mathews (19.8 ppg), has the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout. But Liberty actually won on the road in Nashville during a season split between the top two seeds.
That said, Lipscomb has the best roster and is the clear team to beat. The Bisons might be close to an absurd 30-point favorite in their first matchup with Kennesaw State in what should be a laugher. They could then meet a potentially tricky opponent in Florida Gulf Coast, which split with Lipscomb this season.
I ultimately expect to see the Bisons in the final on their home court, but I don’t see any value at -280. My true odds make them -250, so I would recommend an investment if you can find -200 or better.
North Florida 15-1
If you’re looking for a sleeper to back in the futures market, I’d take a look at No. 3 seed North Florida at +1500. The Ospreys have a few things working in their favor:
- Experience: While there are no seniors on the roster, UNF has a lot of experience playing together. It ranks No. 7 nationally in Minutes Continuity (percentage of a team’s minutes played by the same player from last season to this season), per KenPom.
- Momentum: After suffering a six-game losing streak, North Florida ended the year with six straight wins. It should come in with plenty of confidence.
- Schedule: The Ospreys played their season finale on Feb. 26, giving them almost a full week off before the tournament. Meanwhile, every other team in the conference played this past Friday night
North Florida is a balanced team with five players that average double digits. It also shoots a ton of threes, which is a characteristic I like in a potential conference tournament sleeper. The Ospreys attempt 27.5 treys per game, which ranks in the top 20 nationally. If they get hot from deep for three games, they have a shot.
And with Noah Horchler suspended, I think they will become even more 3-point reliant. Plus, UNF clearly didn’t miss him in its final two wins — one of which came over Liberty.
UNF did lose both meetings with Lipscomb this season, but it will be on the other side of the bracket with Liberty, which it beat at home and lost competitively to on on the road. And the Ospreys will get to start off the Atlantic Sun tournament with a home game over North Alabama — a team it beat easily twice this year.