College Basketball Odds & Picks: Our 3 Best Bets for Wednesday’s Conference Tournament Games (March 2)
eyton Williams/UNC/Getty Images. Pictured: Myles Thompson (5) of the Saint Francis Red Flash.
The second full day of college basketball conference tournament season is upon us. One day after the Horizon League, Patriot League and ASUN were in action, the NEC, Ohio Valley and Big South take center stage.
As is the case whenever conference tournaments are in action, our staff and Three Man Weave teamed up to provide one pick for each active tourney.
So, let’s dive right into Wednesday’s conference tournament slate. And be sure to check back tomorrow when seven conferences are in the fold.
Conference Tournament Best Bets for March 2
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our college basketball staff is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
|Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAB Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.|
Big South: Radford vs. North Carolina A&T
By Jim Root
Conference tournaments truly begin when there’s day ball, and that’s what the Big South brings us on this fine Wednesday.
North Carolina A&T and Radford tip off at 11:30 a.m. ET from Bojangles Coliseum in Charlotte, NC, to ring in the morning Madness. I like the Aggies here in their first-ever Big South Tournament contest (first year after coming over from the MEAC).
These two just met on Saturday to close the regular season, and Radford actually pulled out a 62-53 win at NC A&T. However, the Aggies did win at Radford back in January.
North Carolina A&T inaugurated league play with a 4-1 overall record but struggled thereafter, during a tough schedule stretch.
Notably, though, these Aggies were the only Big South squad to defeat the conference’s eventual champion, Longwood. That unique achievement demonstrates North Carolina A&T’s ceiling.
The Aggies roster features an impressive collection of talent, including a fifth-year starter at point guard. Additionally, the Aggies’ core lineups include transfers from UCF, VCU, New Mexico State and Purdue Fort Wayne. The pieces never quite coalesced as one might hope, but in a “fresh start” in the conference tournament, I believe the Aggies get the ship pointed in the right direction.
I am seeing some +2 out there as of writing — during the small hours of Wednesday morning. Scoop that up if it is still available as you’re reading this because Wednesday’s Big South opener projects as a close game.
Furthermore, I would bet it all the way to NC A&T -1.
Pick: North Carolina A&T +2 (Play to -1)
NEC: Saint Francis vs. Wagner
Wagner looked like a clear runaway to win the NEC after opening the season 17-2, including a win over VCU. But the Seahawks lost Elijah Ford to injury back in February, and the group hasn’t looked the same since.
Wagner has gone just 3-3 straight up, including two outright losses as double-digit favorites since Ford went down. After allowing just 65 points per game this season, the Seahawks have allowed 76 over their last five matchups. Opposing offenses have had their way in the paint, shooting 60% on 2-point attempts.
Now, the Seahawks welcome in St. Francis (PA), which takes 69% of its shot attempts from inside the perimeter. The Red Flash have produced 57% of their points from 2-point territory.
Wagner’s offense plays with a similar style, rarely taking 3-point attempts. The Red Flash have proven capable of defending inside the perimeter without fouling. That will be crucial against a Wagner offense that averages 21 free-throw attempts per game.
St. Francis (PA) will come out inspired after smelling blood in the water due to Wagner’s recent struggles. This game will be a battle in the paint, and the Red Flash will keep this one within striking distance.
Pick: St. Francis (PA) +12.5 (Play to +11)
Ohio Valley: SIUE vs. Tennessee State
By Matt Cox
Penny Collins and the boys of Nashville are charging fast. Tennessee State, tagged as a preseason dark horse coming into the year, finally flipped a switch. Before running out of gas against Belmont in the regular-season finale, the Tigers had covered seven straight games dating back to the beginning of February.
Jagged perimeter play and roster shakeups threw this team for a loop early on this season. Now, it’s firing on all cylinders.
For starters, the backcourt turbulence has been smoothed over, thanks to the steady hands of Kenny Cooper and Marcus Fitzgerald. The former Music City high school standouts struggled to co-exist early on — Cooper transferred in this offseason from nearby Lipscomb. Now, this duo is co-piloting the offense harmoniously.
Timing is everything in college basketball. Coinciding with the perimeter improvements, Shakem Johnson and Jalen Dupree are blossoming into their own terrific tandem in the frontcourt, arming Collins with a well-rounded core rotation.
It’s worth noting Fitzgerald did not play last game, but the Tigers are plenty deep on the perimeter if he’s unable to suit up again. Plus, against SIUE’s patchwork backcourt, that deficiency won’t be exposed.
Please take note of the strict strike price. Anything above -3 is too rich to lay in a neutral-site game.