Big South Conference Tournament Betting Preview: More Value On Field Than Winthrop
Jaylynn Nash/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Winthrop Eagles guard Russell Jones.
The Big South conference tournament is set to start Saturday at 2 p.m. ET with a bout between Hampton and Presbyterian. Shortly following, will be USC Upstate vs. High Point. Both of these games will be featured on ESPN+.
The tournament, of course, will catapult one team from the Big South conference to the NCAA Tournament with an automatic bid. More than likely, there will only be one team taken from the Big South.
There isn’t much value in betting on Winthrop to win the conference tournament at nearly -200. They are overvalued, even though they are the consensus best team in the conference and clear-cut favorite (64.06% per TeamRankings) to win the tournament.
The Favorite: Winthrop Eagles
The Winthrop Eagles (20-1, 17-1) are highly-ranked nationally (114th in our power ratings) for a team in the Big South.
Their key players include versatile senior forward, Chandler Vaudrin, and veteran senior guards, Charles Falden and Adonis Arms.
Tthe Eagles will lean on that maturity at this crucial time of year. All three of the aforementioned players score between 10-12 points per game, and they all carry that winning DNA, as evidenced by their superb record.
The Eagles rank 23rd in the nation in points per game. They play a fast-paced game and have the ability to score at any time.
Their jack-of-all-trades leader, Vaudrin, champions three separate statistical categories for the Eagles: assists, points, and rebounds.
This is a rarity amongst college basketball players and his presence poses danger to opponents. He paces the Eagles with 6.7 of the team’s 14.7 assists per game, and also averages 6.8 rebounds.
I do have a few concerns about the Eagles, and think their odds to win the conference tournament are placed a little too high. For one, their record seems to be a bit inflated.
In a very uninspiring conference, they have won nine games by fewer than eight points. This 20-1 team isn’t blowing anyone out. While their record is obviously aesthetically pleasing, that does not hide a few troubling statistics.
The most eye-popping weakness to this Winthrop squad is its defense. Winthrop is 189th in the nation in opponent effective field goal percentage, and 90th in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency.
This has allowed teams without much offense prowess to stick around, such as UNC-Asheville twice. Winthrop survived 84-80 the first time, but lost 57-55 in the rematch.
This resulted in Winthrop’s only loss on the year. In short, if you can contain the Eagles offensively, you have more than a shot to beat them.
It’s evident that between their first and second games in that series, the Bulldogs figured out how to slow down that dangerous offense, and that is concerning for a Winthrop team that could potentially face them in the semifinals.
Winthrop has had a couple of problematic matchups this year, including the series against the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs. There are certain teams that exist solely to cause bad matchups, and this feels like the purpose of these Bulldogs.
Not only did UNC-Asheville beat Winthrop once, they also only lost the other game of that series by four points. Those two games proved that they can compete with the Eagles
Led by Tajion Jones (16 ppg), these Bulldogs could cause havoc in the conference tournament, despite being merely a four seed.
I would never argue that UNC-Asheville is the better team, but I will say they are a troublesome matchup. And if the Bulldogs get by the Longwood Lancers, and then squeak by Winthrop, they will find themselves in the championship game. That alone makes this a worthy long shot bet. I plan on putting some money on the Bulldogs if they are around +500.