Conference Tournament Simulations: Best Bets to Win ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 & SEC
Grant Halverson/Getty Images. Pictured: The Duke Blue Devils mascot
Six teams have already punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament by winning their respective conference tournaments. Over the next week, 26 more automatic bids will be handed out.
The power conference tournaments tip on Tuesday and Wednesday. The ACC, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC titles are up for grabs, so which teams will cut down the nets?
To find out, we ran 10,000 simulations of the power conference tournaments using our Bracket Simulator. To identify bets with positive expected value we converted each team’s odds to win the tournament from FanDuel into an implied probability and compared it to our model.
Based on our projections, these are the teams offering bettors value to win their respective conference tournaments:
Greensboro, N.C. | March 10-14
According to the oddsmakers, Florida State, Duke, Louisville and Virginia are the most likely teams to win the ACC title — each is +750 or better. Every other team in the tourney is +2300 or worse.
While the betting market sees it as a four-team race, our model thinks there is a clear favorite. Duke might have finished the season 3-3 down the stretch but it ranks No. 2 in our power ratings.
The Blue Devils are projected to win the ACC tournament 51.7% of the time. Our model makes Coach K’s bunch -110 favorites, instead of +250.
Big East Tournament
New York, N.Y. | March 11-14
The Big East is wide open. There are six teams with +800 or better odds and five squads with a 15% or better chance of winning it all. Despite all the parity, one team stands out as offering the most value.
Villanova is the favorite and Seton Hall is the most likely champion (21.8%), but Butler is the best bet. The Bulldogs have already beaten Nova this season and are the second-highest rated Big East team in our power ratings (15th) behind Seton Hall.
Butler can beat any team in the conference, and at +700 odds are the best value to be the last team standing in the Garden.
Note: Seton Hall does not have odds to win the tournament at FanDuel because the university is located in New Jersey. As a result, the betting odds are from the Westgate for the Big East tournament.
Big 12 Tournament
Kansas City, Mo. | March 11-14
Kansas is the best team in the country. The Jayhawks are ninth in offensive and second in defensive efficiency. KU is the only team in the nation that ranks in the top 10 in both categories.
Bill Self’s team has a 49.7% chance to win the tournament in Kansas City, which is twice as likely as any other team. Bettors are getting fair odds backing the Jayhawks at +105.
Big Ten Tournament
Indianapolis, Ind. | March 11-15
Michigan State is the favorite and the hottest team in the tournament. The Spartans fell out of the AP Poll after losing four of five in early February, but finished the year on a five-game winning streak that included victories over four consecutive ranked opponents. Despite being red hot, Sparty has just a one-in-four chance of leaving Indianapolis with a trophy and offers no value to cut down the nets.
In fact, no team is offering gamblers value. The Big Ten is currently projected to send 10 teams to the NCAA tournament. This week’s conference tourney should be one of the most competitive in the nation, which will make for a fun watch but doesn’t create a solid betting opportunity.
Note: Rutgers does not have odds to win the tournament at FanDuel because the university is located in New Jersey. As a result, the betting odds are from the Westgate for the Big Ten tournament.
Las Vegas, Nev. | March 11-14
Here are our power ratings for the top teams in the conference:
- Arizona 63.2
- Oregon 62.0
- Colorado 61.0
No other team has a rating of 60 or better. Our model projects these teams to win the Pac-12 tournament 72.5% of the time, with little separating the three.
The Buffaloes enter the tournament having lost four in a row, but the underlying metrics still value Tad Boyle’s program. By having the longest odds of this bunch, likely inflated due to the losing streak, Colorado is the team with the best chance to win that is offering the most value to bettors.
Nashville, Tenn. | March 11-15
The oddsmakers list Kentucky and Auburn as the favorites to win the SEC Tournament. Our model agrees as the Wildcats (26.2%) and Tigers (28.6%) are the two most likely teams to win it all.
Coach Cal’s team is a little overrated based on our simulations, though. The Cats are only 24th in offensive and 52nd in defensive efficiency, and are a pass at +180 odds.
Auburn has NBA talent and wins against the other top teams in the tournament (Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State). Little separates Auburn from Kentucky in our power ratings, so why bet the Wildcats at +180 when you can get the Tigers +300?