March 9, 2013
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Grazing The Lesser Known Tournaments This Weekend (by Michael Stewart)
With the marquee conferences getting their affairs in order for championship week, the weekend is left for the lesser known conferences out there. Let’s scan the odds on some of the college basketball futures market afterthoughts. In most instances, this is a simple case of following the leader because parity is hard to come by in the non-majors.
Southern Conference Tournament (March 9-12)
The Southern Conference is literally an open and shut case. Davidson stormed this league with a 17-1 SU record during conference play. They have a strong defense and very reliable offense that you can bank in the futures market. In the neutral territory of the SOCON Tournament, it’s still tough to measure how well Davidson will do against the spread. They finished the year 14-14-1 ATS so I’d be wary of riding the coattails in game lines. As far as SOCON futures go, however, there is no other play. Davidson remains heads and shoulders above the rest.
Sun Belt Tournament (March 8-12)
Let’s put it this way: Middle Tennessee State losing this tournament would be shocking. They’re a heavy -375 favorite to win the Sun Belt Tournament. The next favorite is Arkansas State at +450, but consider that they lost to the Blue Raiders 60-73 a month ago. There is really no reason to overthink this one. The Sun Belt belongs to Middle Tennessee State when it comes to basketball this year, and this program is hungry for its first conference title ever.
Pick: Middle Tennessee State -375
Summit League (March 9-12)
The Summit League Tournament is a tale of two teams, with a pack of disillusioned pretenders standing in the way. The best bets in the Summit tourney are none other than North Dakota State at +125 and South Dakota State at +140. It’s the battle of the Dakotas! As the defending champions of this tournament, and with slightly longer odds than the favorite, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits are the best play here.
Pick: South Dakota State +140
MAAC (March 8-11)
Three clear frontrunners in the MAAC will kick things off Saturday night as they attempt to claim victory in this lesser known tournament. Niagara is the current favorite at +250 since they have the strongest in-conference record of the bunch. Behind them are Loyola-Maryland and Iona, who share +275 odds.
Led by Antoine Mason and Juan’ya Green, Niagara continues to be one of those programs that plucks talent out of thin air and they’re the logical play here as the favorite. There is a chance for Rider to break through as a +800 longshot, but they’re a very jagged pill to swallow. I’d refrain.
Pick: Niagara +250
CAA (March 9-12)
The safest bet in the bunch continues to be top-seeded Northeastern at +200, for the simple reason that they have a bye straight to the next round. Delaware (+220) and George Mason (+250) are the next teams on the board before we start to delve in to longshot territory. Drexel (+400) and James Madison (+700) should be nothing more than first round fodder.
The CAA has been surprisingly competitive as a non-major. The top-5 schools in the conference are separated by a two win margin, while the top-3 teams ranked by in-conference record have a difference of just one win. No team has separated itself from the pack in terms of talent, but Northeastern is the best of the bunch. Their record is effected by their loss to Old Dominion that ended the season, but the 2-to-1 odds on the Huskies are the best bet you can make here unless you have a sentimental choice in mind.
Pick – Northeastern Huskies (+200)