Conference Tournament Picks: Big Underdogs Offering Betting Value Monday

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Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Miami (Oh) Redhawks guard Nike Sibande

  • With conference tournaments in full swing, there are plenty of desperate underdogs playing each night.
  • John Ewing looks at the underdogs worth a bet on Monday's slate including Miami OH vs. Buffalo.
  • See the picks he is making on tonight's games below.

College basketball conference tournaments are underway. Regardless of regular season performance, each team has a chance to win a league tournament and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

This is a golden opportunity for teams with losing records that have no chance of receiving an at-large invitation. For these longshots aiming to reach the Big Dance, their journey begins in the first round of their respective conference tournaments.

Early in conference tournaments we often see large spreads. After a full season, oddsmakers have a good idea of which teams are good and bad.


Odds as of Monday at 10:20 a.m. ET. Check out FanDuel. Get up to a $500 risk-free bet at FanDuel today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


Usually big underdogs are squads at the bottom of the conference standings. These are the teams that need to run the table in order to go dancing. Their opponent in the first game often has a superior record and has shown to be more talented throughout the regular season.

Casual bettors tend to wager on favorites. Oddsmakers know this and will inflate lines for teams that are expected to win.

College Basketball Conference Tournament Betting System

Historically, this has created value betting on underdogs, especially big dogs early in tournaments. Since 2005, underdogs of more than six points have gone 185-157-7 (54%) against the spread (ATS) in the first round of conference tournaments according to Bet Labs.

The optimal strategy for wagering on these dogs is to bet them when the line stays the same or moves against them.


Since 2005, these big underdogs have gone 123-91-4 (57%) ATS in the first round of conference tournaments. A $100 bettor would have returned a profit of $2,618 following this system.

Big dogs succeed early in the tournament for a few reasons.

First, the lines are likely inflated for the favorite as we mentioned. Second, motivation is difficult to handicap, but it is safe to assume that big underdogs are likely teams that will not make the NCAA Tournament unless they win their conference tournament.

That extra incentive might be enough to give them an edge against a superior opponent.

Monday System Match

  • Eastern Michigan (+8) vs. Kent State (7 p.m. ET)
  • Western Michigan (+9.5) vs. Toledo (7 p.m. ET)
  • Miami OH (+9) vs. Buffalo (7:30 p.m. ET)