College Basketball Conference Tournament Odds & Futures: Calabrese’s Best Bets for Patriot & Horizon Leagues
Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Antoine Davis (Detroit)
Each week, to coincide with the release of the Monday edition of the Big Bets On Campus college basketball podcast, I’ll be sharing my top plays.
Here’s how I’m playing both.
Patriot League Conference Tournament
You can protect your higher seeds in a few meaningful ways at the mid-major level. You can provide them with byes (hello, WCC), or you offer them home court advantage.
In the Patriot League Tournament, every single game is played on the higher seed’s home court. This sets Colgate up for a cushy run to the Big Dance.
The Raiders (-200 to win) are 10-2 in their last four Patriot League Tournaments, and have the goods to secure the league’s automatic bid once again.
Colgate is the nation’s fifth-best 3-point shooting team, and it spreads the wealth. All five starters average double figures and all five shoot 35% or better from long range.
As for the Raiders’ exact path, either Lafayette or Bucknell are on deck, two teams that they absolutely pummeled during the regular season.
Waiting in the wings in the semifinals would be either Lehigh or Army. The Cadets pose little threat and were easily handled by the ‘Gaters twice this season. Lehigh was able to defeat Colgate once, but it took a tremendous shooting performance to get it done.
Given their experience, offensive flexibility and the Hamilton home cooking, it’s a very safe bet they at least reach the title game.
At that point, you’d have to pay more than -200 to grab them on the moneyline. For that reason, of all the mid-major favorites this week, Colgate is one of the teams in my portfolio.
As for long shots, Navy holds some value, but I worry it doesn’t have the shooting to knock off BU and Colgate en route to the Big Dance. The Midshipmen do it with tempo (310th) and defense (KenPom 44th) and nearly nipped Colgate in their last meeting.
But Ed DeChellis’ offense would need a lot more from John Carter Jr. to get over the hump, and I just don’t see it.
Boston University, on the other hand, has the bell cow to get it done. Sukhmail Mathon could put the Terriers on his broad shoulders and carry them all the way.
The senior big has posted five 20+ point double-doubles in Patriot League play. He’s a matchup problem for a small Colgate roster, and he has some help on the wings.
Walter Whyte and Javante McCoy average nearly 30 points per game combined, and could give them the inside-outside balance to make a nice run. At 6:1, that’s worth a look.
Pick: Colgate to win event | Navy & Boston University worth a look
Patriot League Conference Tournament
While the Patriot League appears to be Colgate or bust, the Horizon League could be wide open. After campus sites in the first round and quarterfinals, the tourney moves to Indiana Farmers Coliseum in Indianapolis.
Cleveland State, the top seed, has been leaking oil down the stretch, losing three of five, with its wins coming against conference dregs Milwaukee and Green Bay.
The Vikings can really shoot (36th EFG%), but you can kill them on the glass (303rd in DEF Reb%), and they’re sloppy with the basketball at times. You don’t have to use much imagination to picture them falling before the title game.
So who can take advantage of a weak favorite? Wright State (+380) has a tremendous trio of scorers.
Tanner Holden and Grant Basile average nearly 40 points per game and provide the Raiders with wonderful inside-outside balance. Trey Calvin can also catch fire, shooting 37% from 3.
But defensively, the Raiders can’t stop anyone (278th Opp FG%) and they haven’t been strong on the road this season.
Similarly, Oakland (+550) has a ton to offer on offense, but it can’t get stops when it needs to down the stretch. As a result, the Golden Grizzlies have blown a handful of leads in the past few weeks.
So, why not go for a big shocker and back, arguably, the best player in this whole tournament — Antoine Davis. The combo guard is averaging 24 points per game and nearly five assists.
He’s helped Detroit Mercy right the ship after a disastrous 0-6 start. It has beaten Cleveland State once and nearly got the Vikings a second time (2-point loss).
The Titans have the 3-point upside to shoot their way past anyone in the Horizon, but they’ll need to either pick it up on defense or on the glass. They’re in the bottom 30 nationally in both 2-point defense and defensive rebounding.
Can they make up for that with a couple 10-15 3-point performances? It’s possible. And at 15:1, I’m willing to find out.
Pick: Detroit Mercy at 15:1