Stuckey: A Running List of Conference Tournament Futures I’m Betting

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Mitchell Layton/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Goodwin

The most wonderful time of the year has arrived.

In this piece, I’ll be covering all the smaller conference tournament futures I’m betting, and breaking down some leagues further if I think it’s warranted. Here’s my list of major conference tournament futures I bet.

The conference tourneys kicking off on a given day will always be at the top of this piece. Wednesday, I’m covering two more — the Atlantic 10 and Big Sky.


Odds via DraftKings unless otherwise noted. In NJ, PA, Indiana or WV? Bet now at DraftKings.


Stuckey: My Favorite Conference Tournament Futures

Here’s what I’ve bet so far. I’ll keep adding to this list as tournaments begin over the next week plus.

If you’re in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana or West Virginia, you can bet these futures now at DraftKings.

Wednesday, March 11

  • A-10: Saint Louis 20-1 (half unit)
  • Big Sky: Northern Colorado 2-1 or better

Monday, March 9

  • MAC: Akron +210 (half unit)

Saturday, March 7

  • Summit: Pass
  • CAA: William & Mary +525
  • Sun Belt: South Alabama +400

Friday, March 6

  • Southern: Pass

Thursday, March 5

  • MVC: Missouri State 9-1 or better

Wednesday, March 4

  • MWC: Half-unit each on Utah State (3-1 or better), UNLV (9-1 or better)

Tuesday, March 3

  • Patriot: Colgate ML rollover
  • Horizon: Wright State -120
  • Big South: Radford +120
  • Atlantic Sun: UNF +425

Atlantic 10

Saint Louis is playing its best basketball of the season, winning five straight conference games to close out the season, all by double digits. The emergence of Javonte Perkins has been an enormous boost to complement fellow juniors Jordan Goodwin and Hasahn French.

The Billikens’ late season run propelled them to the No. 4 seed, which gives them a double bye into the quarterfinals on Friday in Brooklyn.

There, they will most likely meet a St. Bonaventure team that skidded down the stretch, including a 23-point loss in its season-finale against Saint Louis.

If Saint Louis advances to the semis (which I think it does), it will face Dayton — undoubtedly the best team in the A10 and currently one of the five best teams in the country, per my latest power ratings. The Flyers could go down as the best 2-point shooting team in college basketball history.

Dayton went undefeated in conference play and no team really came close to beating the Flyers — except for St. Louis. And that’s because the Billikens match up extremely well with Dayton.

STL has the physicality inside to match up with Obi Toppin, it can defend the rim and most importantly, the Billikens can rebound at an elite level which is the Dayton’s primary weakness. In the two meetings this year, Dayton won at STL on a buzzer beater in overtime and by six at home.

None of the other contenders really match up well with Dayton.

  • VCU is banged up
  • Rhode Island has no depth, which makes it tough in a tourney format
  • Richmond can’t take advantage of Dayton on the glass

I’ll take a half unit shot at 20-1 on Saint Louis pulling off an upset over a Dayton team it just matches up well with in a probable third meeting in the semifinals. Let’s just hope the Billies can make some free throws (dead last in the nation) and don’t overlook their first matchup against the Bonnies.

Favorite Future: Saint Louis 20-1 (half unit)

Big Sky

Despite being the No. 2 seed, I think Northern Colorado is head and shoulders above the rest of the conference. I have them rated just under 4.0 points better than the next best team, No. 1 seed Eastern Washington.

I also think NoCol got a very favorable draw with Montana as its likely semifinals opponent. This just isn’t the same Grizzlies squad we’re used to seeing and that also means the Bears can avoid two of the hottest teams in the conference, Eastern Washington and Portland State, until the final. Both teams actually swept Northern Colorado this season.

If you can find 2-1 or better on Northern Colorado, that’s worth a stab. I’d pass at +175 or below.

Favorite Future: Northern Colorado 2-1 or better

MAC

This is a really good draw for Akron. The Zips, who I rate as the best team in the conference, are one of four teams with a double bye to the quarterfinals in Cleveland on Thursday. The No. 4 seed with the bye in the top half of the bracket along with Akron is Northern Illinois, which I have power rated as the eight best team in the conference.

The trickiest game for Akron could be a potential semifinal matchup with Buffalo on Friday. They split during the regular season and the Bulls’ prowess on the offensive glass can exploit Akron’s biggest weakness: defensive rebounding. That said, Buffalo wants to run (No. 7 nationally in Adjusted Tempo) as much as anybody but isn’t that deep so playing on b2b nights (and third in five days) could hurt their legs. And that is if Buffalo gets through those two games first.

Akron only lost to three other teams during conference play: Bowling Green, Toledo and Kent State. And that trio of teams all sit in the bottom half of the bracket.

In regards to the bottom half of the bracket:

  • Throw out Western Michigan — the worst team in the conference.
  • Toledo has the offense, led by guard Marreon Jackson, but not enough defense.
  • Kent State also has plenty of offensive firepower but hasn’t won four consecutive games against Division I competition all season, which it would need to do to win this tourney.
  • Eastern Michigan has the defense with its long zone, but nowhere close to enough offense.
  • Ball State has the best defense in the conference and a dynamic inside-out duo of Tajhai Teague and Ishmael El-Amin, but the offensive options are limited after that. It’s a team that shoots a ton of 3s but struggles to shoot them.
  • Bowling Green might have the best overall player in the conference in Justin Turner to go along with senior guard Dylan Frye, who finally looked fully fit and played his full minutes in the season finale. The Falcons don’t play much defense but you have to love having those guards along with Plowden and the surrounding in the final minutes of what should be a very competitive bottom half of the bracket filled with close games late — as the conference has been all year.

I’ve loved Bowling Green all year when it had both Frye and Turner healthy and playing full minutes, which it appears they will have for this tourney. That said, a potential path of Toledo-Ball State-Akron isn’t easy.

I’d have them approximately -2, +1 and +3 for those three respective games. That means I’d need over 8-1 to even consider Bowling Green. The same can be said for Ball State and the other contenders in the bottom half. I just don’t see any value.

Akron at +250 or better would be lovely if you can find it as I love their path and think the Zips are clearly the best team in the MAC. I’m personally not seeing any, so made a smaller investment of a half unit on +210. They are the most complete team by far with a very favorable draw to boot. They can close out games from the line as well as anybody. It’s also one of the most experienced teams in the country.

I think Akron cuts down the nets behind a tourney MVP effort from point guard Loren Cristian Jackson.

If you’re doing it more recreationally and looking for a longer shot, my prediction for the final is still Akron-BG, so add the Falcons if you want to root for that freeroll potential final.

Favorite Future: Akron +210 (half unit)

Sun Belt

It’s no secret where I’m going here as I will continue to ride South Alabama. The Jaguars are one of the most experienced teams in the country and got red-hot to end the season by winning eight straight to secure a triple bye into the semis.

Even so, they’re listed with the fourth-best odds to win the Sun Belt Tournament, which I find crazy for a senior-laden, confident team that just needs to win two games to get to the dance.

I actually have South Alabama power rated as the second-best team in the conference behind only Texas State, which they could potentially face in the semis. However, I actually really like the matchup for South Alabama as Texas State does not shoot the ball well from the perimeter, which is important against the South Alabama zone. The Bobcats also foul a ton which plays right into the hands of a South Alabama team that lives at the line (and shoots well from there).

South Alabama did have trouble with Georgia State, as the Panthers can really shoot from 3, but they’re on the other side of the bracket. Give me South Alabama to take out Little Rock in the final and I’ll probably bet the Jags again in the first round of the tournament.

Favorite Future: South Alabama 4-1 or better

Summit

It will probably come down to one of the Dakotas, but the odds look fair here for a tourney that is held in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Your guess is as good as mine for a conference I haven’t had a great feel for this year. Hard pass.

Colonial

Only four original Division I teams have never made the NCAA Tournament: Army, St Francis NY, Citadel and William & Mary. I think that could change this year with the Tribe.

William and Mary has won five straight, so it’s coming in with a ton of confidence. It’s also defeated every team in the conference at least once, so it can compete with anybody. I also like where it fell in the bracket. It should get by the winner of JMU/Elon to advance to the semis to face either Northeastern or Towson.

And if they face top seed Hofstra in the final, their size can really give the Pride fits. In fairness, Hofstra’s perimeter offense and ability to force turnovers could plague the Tribe but I’ll take a shot with William and Mary in a championship game setting where things tend to tighten up into more of a half court game.

The Tribe are led by 6-foot-11 senior forward Nathan Knight, who is averaging a double double for the season at 20.6 points and 10.5 boards. William & Mary has a ton of size overall, as it also has a 7-foot senior Andy Van Vliet, who averages 13.3 ppg an 8..6 boards. Those two also can step out and hit from the outside and present matchup problems for most of the conference.

Keep in mind the tourney is now in D.C., so no more semi home-court advantage for Charleston, which has been one of the most disappointing mid-major teams in the country in my book.

Any of the top 6 seeds could realistically win this tournament but give me the Tribe for a half unit at anything 5-1 or better.

Favorite Future: William & Mary +525

Southern Conference

It’s the 100th SoCon tournament for the oldest conference tournament in the nation. And believe it or not, the conference has never had multi bids to the dance. That could change if ETSU loses the title and gets an at-large.

ETSU is the class of the conference. The Bucs boast a super athletic and deep backcourt that can also really defend. They’re also strong underneath, especially with the recent return of Jeromy Rodriguez. If there’s one potential weakness, it’s consistent outside shooting. ETSU will also benefit from being in the top half of the bracket where it will avoid Furman, UNCG and even a still tricky Wofford team that has played the top teams close all season.

ETSU should get to the semis without a sweat where it would then face Mercer or Western Carolina. That might not be as easy it sounds as Mercer has been very good after a slow start to conference play and even handed ETSU its sole home loss of the season. It also needed a late miracle comeback in the season finale at home to beat a very dangerous Western Carolina team by one point.

The Catamounts don’t play much defense but they have a dynamic offense with the inside out duo of the triple double potential of Mason Faulkner and double double machine Carlos Dotson – with Onno Stegger throwing flames from the outside. I still have ETSU getting to the finals but that semifinal game could get very interesting.

On the bottom half, Wofford has been a thorn in the side of both Furman and UNCG the past two seasons, so maybe the Terriers can find enough offense to make a little run. I do think Furman is playing good enough defense now to pass that test to get to the semis but I do worry about the lack of depth in regards to winning three games in three days.

UNCG might be a different story. The Spartans dropped their final two games of the season to Chattanooga and Furman — their likely first two opponents in the SoCon tourney. Isaiah Miller is one of the most talented guards in the conference and the Wes Miller pressure defense is excellent. However, the offense can go through extended droughts and UNCG really struggles from the line, which could serve as their demise.

If UNCG gets by an excellent offensive Chattanooga team, I’d favor Furman in the semis if the chalk holds. Furman doesn’t turn the ball over, which is key against UNCG that scores with much more consistency.

All in all, my pick to cut down the nets is ETSU but I don’t see much value in the futures market, so nothing for me pre-tourney here. There are land mines all over a pretty deep conference, so nothing would surprise me – outside of Citadel winning a game.

Missouri Valley

Historically, this has been a very chalky tournament with a top 3 seed winning 39 of the past 43 titles. However, just like last year when we saw a No. 5 beat a No. 6 in the final, this feels like a more wide open year in the Valley.

No team has ever won four games in four days to win the MVC tournament, so you can throw out the 7-10 seeds. You can also pretty much advance top seed UNI to the semifinals as the No. 1 seed in St. Louis is an astonishing 29-0 against the 8/9 seed in the quarterfinals.

Northern Iowa has been the best team in the conference all season and is led by a dynamic inside-out duo of sophomores in post man Austin Phyfe and likely MVC Player of the Year, guard AJ Green. UNI also has shooters all over the court as the Panthers rank second in the nation from deep at 39.3%. They have four players that shoot over 40% from beyond the arc and that’s not including Green, who sits just below at 39.4%.

Their offense ranks in the top 20 nationally in Adjusted Efficiency and they play very connected.

That said, this is not a very deep team, ranking 343rd in the country in bench minutes. That could become an issue on Sunday for the third game in three days and/or if they run into foul trouble. I also don’t see any value at even-money odds, so let’s focus on seeds 2-6.

  • I don’t think SIU has enough offense and the Salukis arrive in St. Louis having lost five of six to close the season.
  • Last year’s champ, Bradley, could make noise once again with forward Elijah Childs now back from injury to complement senior guard Darrell Brown. Childs, who won last year’s tourney MVP, averages just under 15 points and 9 boards per game. Bradley is back in the 4 vs. 5 game — just as it was last year when it won this tournament.
  • Indiana State is an intriguing option. Unlike SIU, the Sycamores come in red hot as they won four straight to end the year. Led by two upperclassmen guards in Tyrke Key and Jordan Barnes, Indiana State can shoot the rock, ranking in the top 10 nationally from 3. However, they lack size and struggle to get second chance looks.
  • Loyola Chicago has the No. 2 seed and is led by the crafty Cam Krutwig inside.

That leaves the team I’m going to take a shot with in Missouri State. The Bears were the preseason favorites according to many but have had a fairly disappointing season. They’ve had stretches of poor play but have also been fairly unlucky in close games all year. However, they finally got a break on the final weekend of the season and got the results they needed to avoid the dreaded Arch Madness first-round.

This is an extremely experienced team with a ton of depth that should help in a scenario when they have to win three games in three days. They also have as much length and size inside as any team in the conference with Gaige Prim, Tulio da Silva and LaMont West. And guard Keandre Cook can get buckets when his team needs them.

This new-look team avenged that Indiana State loss with a double-digit win in Terre Haute. They’ve just been playing with much more energy over the past month and have looked like the team many expected preseason (sans a clunker at Valpo).

Would it shock me if Missouri State lost to Indiana State? No, not at all. I like the matchup but only make the Bears a very slim favorite. That said, it also wouldn’t shock me if they put it all together for three games and cut down the nets in St. Louis. Let’s hope Bradley can also knock off UNI in the semis, as that would really help.

Missouri State lost at home to Indiana State on Feb. 1 but have been a different team since implementing senior walk-on and glue guy Ross Owens into the starting lineup. Kabir Mohammed also returned from injury last game and dropped 15 points. He’ll improve the Missouri State depth even more.

I’ve been higher on the Bears than the market all season and have seen some good signs of late, so I’ll take a shot here on it all coming together for a weekend. They’ve also at least beat every team on their side of the bracket at least once. The ideal price here would be 9-1 or better.

Favorite Future: Missouri State 9-1 or better

West Coast Conference

There’s not much to see here as Gonzaga and BYU have triple byes into the semifinals as a result of a format change the conference implemented last season. San Fran would’ve been an intriguing long shot after competing with Gonzaga for long stretches in both meetings but a No. 5 seed makes it tougher as the Dons would have to win four games now — with three likely coming against tourney teams.

I assume Gonzaga gets to the final where they’d be a favorite but I still have no interest in a -350 future. Its will likely face the winner of the presumed semifinal between BYU and St. Marys. Both teams split during the regular season in two tightly contested games.

I’ve thought the gap between Gonzaga and BYU/St. Marys has been significantly less than the market all season which is why I bet BYU and Mary’s against Zags in the past two matchups, which were both easy covers. As a result, I’ll probably just bet this tourney on a game-by-game basis.

If you really want to bet something pre-tourney and have a Gonzaga vs. the field option, I do see some small value in the field at +255 or better since I do think that Gonzaga vs. Marys/BYU gap is smaller than the market. But you wouldn’t be missing out on much if you just wait to play the potential moneyline in the final.

If you don’t have a field option and want to bet someone other than Gonzaga, I’d choose Mary’s over BYU at their current prices. The BYU shooting regression is going to come eventually as the Cougs are shooting 42% from 3 for the season — almost 3 full percentage points higher than the next team — and a whopping 44.5% in conference play.

Favorite Future: Pass

Mountain West

Everybody that follows me probably knows I’m sticking with my preseason darling Utah State Aggies. They hit a very rough stretch due to some health issues after a promising non-conference schedule with neutral court wins over Florida and LSU.

But since they got fully healthy, they’ve looked like the team I expected sans the season finale, a one-point loss at New Mexico. I think that game could re-focus this experienced group ahead of Vegas and they arguably have an easier path to the finals than No. 1 seed San Diego State.

The Aztecs might have a potential quasi road game in Vegas in the semis against a red-hot UNLV team that recently beat SDSU in Viejas. Meanwhile, Utah State would likely face a Nevada team it matches up well with due to its size advantage. The Wolfpack have excellent guard play, led by breakout star Jalen Harris, but the Aggies would dominate on the glass.

Yes, SDSU swept Utah State, but it’s not a lock the Aztecs will get to the final in a conference tournament that hasn’t seen the No. 1 seed dominate over the years. And I think the Aggies can take a lot out of the second loss at San Diego State in which they built a big lead before SDSU went bonkers from deep.

On the backs of guard Sam Merrill and Neemis Queta controlling the paint, give me the Aggies for a half unit. I also took a half-unit on red-hot UNLV, which matches up well with SDSU. If they can beat Boise at home again, look out for a potential upset at Thomas and Mack.

I’m also a little concerned with SDSU fatigue. It’s not a deep team and the Aztecs looked fairly vulnerable at the end of conference play. Now, they’ll have to win three games in three days to cut down the nets here in Vegas.

(This is all just setting up for SDSU to take more of my money, of course.)

Favorite Futures: Half unit each on UNLV (9-1 or better), Utah State (3-1 or better)


Ohio Valley Conference

Well, some of you may be expecting me to bet an EIU flier here but I just can’t. I’ve been much higher on the Panthers than the market late in the season (and still am) but I make them 35-1 given the circumstances.

First of all, EIU would need to win four games in four days. Not only that, IF it gets by a Jacksonville State team that matches up pretty well with EIU due to its prowess on the glass, the Panthers would then in all likelihood need to beat the three best teams in the conference in three straight days. And that’s with questions surrounding the health of one of their best players, Marvin Johnson.

EIU comes in red-hot, winners of four straight, including victories over Austin Peay and Murray State, but this is too tall of a task. I’ve seen some books as low as 22-1 (which is wild), while others are around 75-1, which would be worth a few pennies based on my numbers. But I’m in no rush given the likely path with four games in four days.

While EIU has the magic, Austin Peay has the offense (led by star guard Terry Taylor, who can fill it up) and Murray State has the defense and features a pair of super sophomores in guard Tevin Brown and 6-foot-10 big man KJ Williams. Both were named to first team All OVC.

But the most complete team in the conference is once again Belmont, which could be very scary next year considering how few seniors it relies on. The Bruins had three sophomores named to the All-OVC first team, including skilled post man Nick Muszynski, sharp-shooting guard Adam Kunkel, who leads the team in scoring, and the do-everything glue guard Grayson Murphy, who leads the team in rebounds, assists and steals. Murphy was also named the OVC defensive player of the year.

Not only does Belmont have the best overall team and one I rate 3 points higher than the next best, it has won 10 straight and owns the top overall seed. That means it will avoid EIU, App State and Belmont until the finals.

I’m picking Belmont to win this because the Bruins have the best coach, top overall team and easiest path to the finals by far.

That said, I make them -150 so the OVC looks like a pass and play on a game-by-game basis for me.


NEC

The team that won the regular season didn’t even qualify for the conference tournament as Merrimack still isn’t eligible as it transitions to Division I.

I have St. Francis PA power rated as the top team in the NEC. The Red Flash have the best offense in the league and one of the most experienced rosters in the country, led by two excellent senior guards in Isiaiah Blackmon and Keith Braxton. The latter actually recently became the first player in NEC history to eclipse 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds.

While the Red Flash have the top NEC power rating, they aren’t the No. 1 seed. That honor goes to Robert Morris and that’s important since they will not only play all of their games at home, they’ll also avoid both St. Francis PA and Sacred Heart (who lives on the glass) — my top two power rated teams in the conference — until the title game.

It really wouldn’t shock me to see any team in the NEC cut down the nets, so I wouldn’t blame you for taking a flyer on say FDU’s offense.

That said, I’m staying away.


Patriot League

I had Loyola-Maryland (100-1 at DraftKings) circled as a potential sleeper ever since freshman phenom Santi Aldama returned. However, I really wanted them to avoid a first-round game, which the Greyounds did not do and will also have to head out on the road to play a Lehigh team they just lost to over the weekend and is playing much better basketball of late.

Also, I assume first team All-Patriot League senior guard Andrew Kostecka will miss more time with an ankle injury, so no thank you.

Defending champ Colgate is the clear favorite and for good reason, with almost the same corps as the NCAA Tournament team from last year. The higher seed gets to host each game in the Patriot League Tournament, which means Colgate just has to win three home game to punch its ticket.

The Raiders could face a Lafayette team that beat them twice during the season but the Leopards lost their best player, Justin Jaworski, for the season in February. It’s just not the same team.

Plus, Lafayette will head out on the road for their first game against an Army team that beat them twice during the regular season.

Some thoughts on other teams:

  • Holy Cross is one of the worst teams in the country.
  • Bucknell has the pedigree but the offense just isn’t there this year.
  • Navy plays at an absolute snail pace but simply can’t shoot.
  • American is an intriguing option because of first team All-Patriot senior guard Sa’Eed Nelson.
  • Boston has the best true big man in the league in double double machine Max Mahoney and will attack the glass on both ends but lack reliable shooters from the outside (and line as well).
  • Army is led by two seniors in Tommy Funk and Matt Wilson but lacks size and can’t shoot free throws.

Plus, the 2-4 seeds went a combined 0-6 against Colgate this season. Two of the three teams to beat Colgate (Lafayette and Loyola) have injuries to their best players. And the other was Bucknell, which got a 1-point home win late in the year in a great spot the game after Colgate clinched the regular season title and No. 1 seed in the PL tourney.

Led by Justin Burns, Rapolas Ivanauskas and Will Rayman, a very experienced Colgate team should get back to the dance and put a scare into someone in the first round. Remember the Raiders only lost to Tennessee last year by 7 in the first round despite Ivanauskas missing the second half with an eye injury.

They run beautiful offense highlighted by crisp ball movement and shooters all over. Colgate can also put teams away from the stripe, where it shoots over 75%.

Keep in mind this is one of the worst conferences in the nation in terms of home court advantage due to small gyms and close proximity. Per my updated power numbers, the average HCA is just north of 2.2 points.

You’d think that would lead to more upsets in the conference tournament, but the No. 1 seed has won 10 of the past 17 Patriot League tournaments with one of the top two seeds winning it in 15 of those 17 tourneys. Only once did a team outside of the top four seeds get an automatic bid when Holy Cross shocked the world as a No. 9 seed.

I think the chalky trend continues this year with Colgate, which I make at least a 6-point favorite over every other team in the conference at home.

That said, some books have this price as high as -190 after opening at some books at -115. I think you can get much better odds on a moneyline rollover, assuming Holy Cross doesn’t pull off an improbable upset.

If you can get -115 or better, I’d play Colgate. If not, go with the moneyline rollover. My implied odds after factoring in the matchups is -120.

Here’s how to do it — risk 1 unit on Colgate ML in the first game. If that wins, take 1 unit again and what you profited and put it on Colgate again in the semis. And the same thing in the championship if they get there.

My Favorite Future: Colgate -115 or better, or moneyline rollover

Horizon League

The top two seeds, Wright State and Northern Kentucky, only need to win two games to punch a ticket to the dance. They are by far the two favorites but Wright State is the deserving favorite for three primary reasons:

  • Wright State is the clear best team in the conference
  • They swept No. 2 seed Northern Kentucky during the regular season and match up fairly well.
  • The only other team I see with a shot is Green Bay, which NKU would avoid in the semis. Led by senior guard JayQuan McCloud, Green Bay can score with anyone in the conference. The defense isn’t anything to write home about but when their shots are falling as they do a lot, they can beat anybody in the Horizon as they showed by splitting with the two top seeds in the regular season.

I give the very balanced Wright State Raiders a close to 60% chance of cutting down the nets in Indianapolis, so I’d take anything at -120 or better, which you can find at a few outlets (-110 at PointsBet in NJ).

Free throw shooting is the primary concern with Wright State (67.3%) but a bevy of shooters surrounding Loudon Love inside should be enough to get the Raiders to the dance.

My Favorite Future: Wright State -120 or better

Big South

Sorry, but there are still no long shots for me as most of the ones I have circled don’t come until later in conference tournament season. I’m rolling with the top seed Radford here at +120, which I see a lot of value in. I actually have Radford power-rated as the best team in the conference by percentage points over Winthrop, which is favored at -120. Those two teams split during the regular season on each other’s home courts.

Plus, Radford has the top seed which means it will play all of its games at home. That also means they are on the other side of the bracket from both Winthrop and Gardner-Webb.

You may recall GW won the tourney last year and pushed eventual champion Virginia in the first half of the NCAA Tournament. However, their do-everything guard and best player for my money, Jose Perez, took a leave of absence for personal reasons in early February. Somehow, the Runnin’ Bulldogs seemed fine without him, winning six of eight games, including wins over Winthrop and Radford. However, they were running like Gods from 3 over that stretch.

They’re still a threat but it will be tough to maintain their current level without Perez.

Give me top-seeded Radford for five primary reasons:

  • They’re the top seed, which means they just need to win three home games.
  • Radford likes to play super slow, so I trust them to control the pace more at home.
  • They have the best offense in the conference.
  • They have the best player in the Big South in Carlik Jones.
  • They’re one of the most experienced teams in the entire country.

My Favorite Future: Radford +120

Atlantic Sun

Odds via Circa Sports in Nevada

I’m rolling with my gut here from the preseason and going with the North Florida Ospreys.

A red-hot Lipscomb team could pose some problems in the semis, but UNF should get by and are more than confident against Liberty, having beat the Flames in each of the past two seasons with all five meetings being decided by eight points or less.

My Favorite Future: North Florida +425

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