The Best College Basketball Coaches ATS in Conference Tournaments & On Short Rest
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images. Pictured: Mark Few
John Beilein, King of Adjustments on No Rest, has left college basketball. He’s onto greener pastures (well, sorta).
So we’re in search of our next sweet prince who will lead us to conference tournament profitability.
Fortunately, there have been a few good ones over the last decade plus.
The sample size here is always going to be small. But if you watched Beilein’s Michigan teams, you know there was something to his preparation and adjustments in these short-rest, tournament settings.
I mainly wanted to focus on how coaches perform when their teams played the day before, not specifically how they do in conference tournaments. There’s nothing inherently different about conference tournament games other than the short rest and quick turnarounds.
So this data is mostly from conference tournaments and early-season tournaments.
The NCAA Tournament is a different animal, so I won’t include it — Jim Boeheim has been great against the spread in the Big Dance because so many teams struggle to adjust to his zone. In conference tournaments, they’ve all seen it, and his results aren’t quite as good.
Using our data at Bet Labs, I identified five coaches you may want to back this conference tournament season, and five you may want to fade. I’ve also compiled the full ATS data for three situations below on no rest — full game, first half, and second half lines.
5 Coaches to Back
1. Mark Gottfried, Cal Northridge
Gottfried, the former Alabama and N.C. State coach, is a remarkable 16-2 against the spread since 2006 on no rest. He’s 13-51 ATS in conference tournaments.
His Cal Northridge team won’t kick off the Big West Tournament until Thursday, but could find itself as a big underdog to UC Irvine in the second round, should both advance past Cal State Fullerton.
2. John Calipari, Kentucky
There’s something to Calipari’s madness. He seems to get Kentucky peaking in late February and early March each year. That’s resulted in six SEC Tournament titles in his 10 seasons in Lexington.
The ATS results are accordingly strong. He’s 23-14-2 against the spread in conference tournaments.
3. Mark Few, Gonzaga
You might think Gonzaga would wear down over the course of a conference tournament because of its pace and desire to play in transition. But Few, one of the best coaches in the nation, has thrived in these situations.
He’s 20-10 against the spread with no days rest, and 12-5 ATS against the first-half line.
Few is also 20-10 to the over on no days rest, which is even more impressive considering games in which both teams played the day before have gone under 54% of the time since 2011.
Gonzaga is a 13-point favorite over San Fransisco on Monday, and would face the winner of BYU-Saint Mary’s on Tuesday.
4. Kevin Willard, Seton Hall
Willard has two things going for him — strong full-game (15-9 ATS) and second-half (14-7 ATS) on no rest, plus a star in Myles Powell who can take over a game at any time.
If Seton Hall beats Marquette on Thursday, it will likely face Villanova in the semifinals.
5. Nate Oats, Alabama
Nate Oats-led teams play at a lightning pace, so it might surprise you to see him on this list. The Tide rank No. 3 in adjusted tempo and all four of his Buffalo teams were in the top 40.
Alabama plays Tennessee in the second round, and would face Kentucky with a win.
5 Coaches to Fade
1. Tom Crean, Georgia
Here’s a wild number — Tom Crean has never covered a first half when his team has played the day before. He’s 0-13 ATS all-time. Keep that in your back pocket if UGA gets by Ole Miss on Wednesday.
2. Jim Larranaga, Miami
Larranaga is 12-18-1 ATS in conference tournaments, and the pattern has been pretty simple the last five years — win a game against an ACC bottom-feeder, get beat handily by one of the league’s elite in the next round. He’s 9-19-1 ATS on no days rest, as well.
Larranaga is 3-13-2 ATS against the first-half line in conference tournaments. He’ll take on Clemson as about a 3-point underdog on Wednesday.
3. Mark Fox, Cal
The former Georgia coach has done a pretty good job squeezing the most out of Cal this year, but playing on short rest is not his forte.
On no rest, he is…
- 7-16-1 ATS vs. the full-game line
- 4-11-1 ATS vs. the 2H line
- 8-7-1 ATS vs. the 1H line
Cal should be about a 10-point underdog against Stanford on Wednesday, so you may not get a chance to fade Fox on no rest.
4. Brian Gregory, South Florida
Gregory is awful on no rest at 3-12-1 ATS, but he’s also struggled straight-up in conference tournaments. His Georgia Tech and South Florida teams have only won two total tournament games in the last seven years.
USF kicks off the AAC Tournament on Thursday against UCF, and would play Cincinnati in the next round.
5. Russell Turner, UC Irvine
Irvine has returned a 13% ROI or worse against the first half, second half and full game lines on no rest. He’s 7-13-1 ATS on the full game line as a favorite on no rest.
UC Irvine is the No. 1 seed in the Big West Tournament and will be about a 12-point favorite over Long Beach State in the first round, but the tournament re-seeds in the semifinals.