Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Roy Williams
- Conference tournament week is one of the best weeks on the betting calendar, but it can be intimidating with so many games.
- Bryan Mears compiled some profitable trends and betting systems that have played out consistently during conference tournaments over the last decade.
- We'll update this post with system matches each day as teams move on in their respective tournaments.
It’s officially conference tournament week in college basketball, which is almost as good as March Madness for hoops bettors.
There are so many opportunities to bet over the next week, but it can be overwhelming with so many teams, especially ones most people know little about. To make things easier, I’m going to walk through the best ways to bet, hitting on a variety of profitable systems and narratives to watch out for.
Let’s start from the bird’s eye view. Here are the records for favorites and underdogs against-the-spread (ATS), as well as overs and unders, in conference postseason play vs. regular-season games…
In general, not much is different from the regular season. Unders have hit at a slightly higher rate during conference postseason play, but it’s not incredibly significant or profitable on its own.
Still, there are definitively profitable spots for both the spread and over/under if you know what to look for. Let’s run through all of those, starting with the beginning of tournaments and working our way to the end…
Note: There could be matches on either side of the spread. Make sure to build these trends at Bet Labs to sort through the conflicting matches.
Underdogs are undervalued in the first round
While underdogs have been properly priced overall in conference tournaments, that’s not the case in first-round games. Historically, larger dogs — when the spread is between +7 and +19.5 — have crushed value, especially if the spread doesn’t budge or even moves away from them.
The public clearly overrates the superior team. Make sure to add these systems to your Bet Labs profile to get alerts on matches in the future.
Good teams can still be undervalued
Despite underdogs being a value in that spot, it’s not like you can just ride dogs all the time. In fact, there are situations in which the best teams are actually undervalued by the betting market…
As you can see, the best teams getting public support are undervalued when facing a team that is significantly worse than them both in record and covering the spread on the year. These teams have posted a 12.1% Return on Investment (ROI) historically and went 48-28-2 last year.
Target teams that have covered the spread recently
On a similar note, good play has been important historically in conference tournaments. Teams that have covered the spread in at least three of their last five games have been undervalued against teams that have covered in just one or fewer of their last five.
The better recent ATS teams have historically gone 56.3% against-the-spread (ATS), good for a 9.5% ROI since 2004.
There are five matches for today, three of which are listed below. To see the rest, subscribe to Bet Labs.
- Tennessee +1.5 vs. Kentucky, March 16 at 3:30 p.m. ET
- Wichita State +7 vs. Cincinnati, March 16 at 5:30 p.m. ET
- Florida State +8 vs. Duke, March 16 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Target teams coming off a win, but not a cover
Let’s keep the “recent cover” theme going. According to Bet Labs, teams that are coming off a win (which obviously means they’re still in the tournament) but didn’t cover have been undervalued, especially if their next opponent did cover in their last game.
Those teams have gone a ridiculous 60% ATS for a crazy 16.3% ROI historically. If you’re burned by some winner not covering, don’t worry: double down on them the next day and get your money back.
The revenge narrative is real
Everyone loves a good revenge narrative. Most of the time, it’s less important than people think, especially in betting market. In conference tournaments, however, it’s a real thing…
Teams that are playing an opponent they lost to — and importantly didn’t cover against — and are favored in the rematch are undervalued, going 56.4% ATS for a 9.2% ROI historically.
That’s nice, but we can actually do a bit better. Those teams have actually posted a 14.6% ROI in the first half of those games. They come out motivated, and bettors have reaped the benefits…
Unders smash in day games
Alright, let’s transition to over/under trends now. This one is simple and makes sense: In day games, unders crush…
Historically, teams that played the previous day and then have to face off during the day have gone under the total 58.3% of the time, good for a 12.6% ROI. Day games in this trend are before 6 p.m. ET.
There are eight matches for today, three of which are listed below. To see the rest, subscribe to Bet Labs.
- Under 129.5 in Michigan State-Wisconsin, March 16 at 1 p.m. ET
- Under 148 in Houston-Memphis, March 16 at 3 p.m. ET
- Under 129 in Davidson-Saint Louis, March 16 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Follow line movement on unders
Bet unders. Bet them again. That’s a general rule for conference postseason play.
And bet them even when the line is moving down. Historically, in games with a total of 140 or less see movement toward the under of at least three points, the under has smashed that closing number, hitting 62.8% of the time for a robust 21.8% ROI.
There’s one current match:
- Under 140 in Yale-Princeton, March 16 at 3 p.m. ET
Also follow the public and money on first-half unders
It’s also worth it to follow the public on first-half unders in conference postseason play, especially with two teams that have recently gone under totals more times than not.
Those first-half unders have hit at a 61.7% rate historically, good for an 17.1% ROI.
There are six matches for today, two of which are listed below. To see the rest, subscribe to Bet Labs.
- Under 63 1H in Harvard-Penn, March 16 at 12:30 p.m. ET
- Under 73.5 1H in Buffalo-Bowling Green, March 16 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Alright, let’s finish with a couple end-of-tournament trends….
Bet on unders in conference tournament finals
More unders. There are a couple notable trends to keep in mind (and saved within Bet Labs so you can see the matches each day). Per Bet Labs, it’s profitable to take unders in finals games when the public is on the over:
And honestly, you don’t even have to worry about the public if you’re betting finals with a closing line of 140 or lower. Those unders have hit at a 62.3% rate historically, good for a 19.7% ROI.
There’s one current match:
- Under 124 in Old Dominion-Western Kentucky, March 16 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Conference Postseason Coaching Trends
Just kidding, let’s actually end with some postseason conference coaching trends. I went into Bet Labs and pulled the ATS record and money won, plus the moneyline record and money won for each coach going back to the 2004-05 season. Here are the results:
There are a ton of takeaways you can find yourself, but I personally use this data to squash some narratives. UNC coach Roy Williams, for example, has even publicly stated that he doesn’t care about the ACC Tournament. And while that’s now a public narrative, the data suggests he’s fine ATS — an even 16-16-4 ATS since 2004, in fact.
Of course, he’s much worse in finals games, which is notable as well. His Duke counterpart, Coach K, has been miserable ATS in ACC tournaments, going just 12-20 ATS since 2004. He’s the second least-profitable coach during that span. The most profitable? Saint Joseph’s Phil Martelli, who has gone 22-8 ATS.
Good luck this week!