2019 Horizon League Tournament Betting Odds, Preview: More Madness in the Motor City?
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Wright State head coach Scott Nagy and center Loudon Love
- Looking at the betting odds of the eight-team field in the Horizon League conference tournament, which starts on March 5 on ESPN+.
- The two top seeds, Wright State and Northern Kentucky, enter Motor City Madness as the teams to beat.
- However, we have seen plenty of chaos the past few years in the Horizon tourney, which generally offers long shot value in the futures market.
Motor City Madness tips off on Tuesday night with all four first round matchups.
The Horizon League Tournament nickname was created in 2016 when the tourney moved to Detroit and it has fit like a glove, as the No. 1 seed has failed to reach the final in each of the past three seasons. We have even seen a No. 8 and a No. 10 seed play in the championship, but never the top seed.
Wright State will try to change that trend as it looks to become the first team to win back-to-back Horizon League tournaments since Butler did it in 2010-11. Let’s take a closer look at the Raiders’ chances and examine a potential futures sleeper.
2019 Horizon League Tournament Odds, Format
- Who: Top eight seeds (Cleveland State and Milwaukee did not qualify)
- Format: Single elimination (no byes)
- When: March 5-6, 11-12
- Where: First round on campus sites; remainder in Detroit
- How to Watch: ESPN+/ESPNU/ESPN
- Defending Champion: Wright State
Who Should Win?
Wright State (+200) and Northern Kentucky (+125) finished tied atop the league standings, but I personally give the slight nod to the defending champion Raiders — even though NKU is the betting favorite.
Wright State head coach Scott Nagy has seen his defense transform during the Horizon League slate, turning in the conference’s top Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (98.8 opponents’ points per 100 possessions). The Raiders also only allow the second-lowest 3-point clip (32.4%), which is NKU’s biggest strength (35.9%).
The two top seeds split with each other during the regular season, but Nagy’s crew has the trump card in 6-foot-9 Loudon Love, who Northern Kentucky simply can’t match up with. Love, along with Wright State’s experience edge, make it the most likely team left standing in Detroit.
Without a home court advantage in Motor City Madness, there’s a higher likelihood of upsets in the Horizon than we see in other conferences with home-court throughout. The No. 1 seed has actually fallen in the first round each of the past two seasons. As a result, this is a great tournament for taking a shot with a dark horse in the futures market.
Green Bay +800
The Phoenix have plenty of sleeper value in Wright State’s side of the bracket. Green Bay will host the 4/5 matchup against a UIC team it defeated in both meetings this season. It then would presumably play Wright State on a neutral court — which it beat just last week to even the season series at one apiece.
Head coach Linc Garner’s crew, which boasts similar experience as Wright State, enters the tournament with confidence after winning six of its past nine games. What makes Green Bay tough to defend is its height, as the Phoenix own the Horizon League’s lengthiest lineup. Seven players in their nine-man rotation are at least 6-foot-5, including 6-foot-6 senior guard Sandy Cohen III, who averages 17.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game.
Green Bay also plays at the league’s quickest pace, which can get its opponents in foul trouble when the Phoenix attack the rim in transition.
Cohen and Co. have tallied the second-lowest turnover rate (16.5%) while turning opponents over at the third-highest rate (19.7%). I’m all for lineups that can switch at every position, which the Phoenix certainly can do. I refer to them as the Nevada of the Horizon League. That ability also creates mismatches offensively, especially in a tournament setting.