Simulating the ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC Tournaments
Welcome to Championship Week. Five teams have already punched their tickets to the NCAA Tournament, and over the next week, 27 more automatic bids will be given out to the winners of conference tournaments.
We all love a Cinderella story, but it is the power conference tournaments we will be watching leading up to Selection Sunday. The ACC, Big East, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC titles are up for grabs. Who will win?
To find out, we ran 10,000 simulations of each power conference tournament using our Bracket Simulator. Then we compared each squad’s current odds to win the tourney to our projections. For example, Kansas (+200) is the favorite to win the Big 12. In order for us to feel comfortable wagering on the Jayhawks, they would need to win it all 33.3% (which is 100/(200+100)) of the time. KU is projected to win the Big 12 Tournament 22.8% of the time, meaning there is no value in placing a bet at +200 odds.
Here are the best bets to win each power conference tournament according to our simulations. Note: Remember, always shop around for the best line!
Brooklyn (March 6-11)
Is Virginia (+250) boring? Perhaps. Scoring 67.3 points per game definitely isn’t exciting, but a defense-first approach wins games. UVA gives up 52.8 points per game (first in the nation), allows opponents to shoot 37.5% from the floor (third), and according to KenPom.com, the Wahoos have the best defense since 2001-02. Give me the boring favorite to win the ACC.
Big East Tournament
New York (March 7-10)
Xavier heads to Madison Square Garden as the No. 1 seed after winning its first Big East regular-season championship. However, the Musketeers aren’t the favorites to win the Big East tourney. Villanova (+100), which beat Xavier twice this season, is the betting favorite and has the best odds (56.4%) of any power conference team to clinch an automatic bid. The Wildcats are one of four squads that rank in the top 25 in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
Big 12 Tournament
Kansas City (March 7-10)
The Big 12 Tournament is a toss-up. The league could send 80% of its members to the Big Dance, and given the depth of the conference, no team runs away with the tournament in KC. The Jayhawks (22.8%) are the most likely champion after winning a 14th consecutive regular-season title, but Bill Self’s team is overvalued by the betting market.
Texas Tech (+450) is a team bettors should target. The Red Raiders play stingy defense (third in adjusted defensive efficiency) and were two points shy of sweeping the Jayhawks in the regular season.
Las Vegas (March 7-10)
Arizona, despite the drama surrounding coach Sean Miller and star freshman Deandre Ayton, won the Pac-12 regular-season title. The Wildcats are the betting favorites to add a conference tournament title as well, though at +225 odds, the team has the worst difference between projected chance and implied probability of any Pac-12 team.
Zona is a bad bet, and there isn’t a lot of value to be found in this tourney, but for gamblers looking to get down, UCLA (+600) could be heard from. The Bruins (17.1%) have the third-best chance of winning the tournament, a top-25 offense (82.2 ppg) and the confidence to beat Arizona after upsetting the Wildcats in Tucson in February.
St. Louis (March 7-11)
The oddsmakers think it’s a four-team race in the SEC tourney. Auburn, Tennessee, Florida and Kentucky are all +550 or better to win. Combined, the top seeds cut down the nets in St. Louis 77.0% of the time. According to the simulations, the Vols (+400) and the Gators (+550) are undervalued. Tennessee is fourth in defensive efficiency, and Florida is a balanced unit with a knack for upending ranked opponents (6-2 vs. top-25 teams this season, including wins against Auburn and Kentucky).
Pictured above Virginia forward Isaiah Wilkins
Photo via Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports