Posted 03/03/2008 at 04:39 PM
The next month is one of the most exciting times of the year. While everyone follows the NCAA tournament and anyone that gambles on sports will have more at stake during the Big Dance, the conference tournaments this week and next provide better opportunities for profits. In the NCAA tournament there are profits to be had but the many variables and the uncommon opponents add new challenges. The conference tournaments often feature less-than neutral courts and feature teams that have typically played each other once or twice in the regular season so there are some clear match-up advantages that have been established.
Being a service in the Midwest one of our favorite conferences in the Horizon League and this week the Horizon tournament starts with four games on Tuesday. We just posted a recent article with some of our thoughts on the upcoming games and the tournament outlook as a whole with Butler as an overwhelming favorite.
Another tournament this week that merits checking out is the Sun Belt tournament which tips off on Wednesday. The Sun Belt is a huge conference and the tournament will feature some great games. South Alabama and Western Kentucky are both fringe at-large bid candidates for the Big Dance so there will be a ton at stake as it is likely that at least one very good team will be sent to the NIT instead of the NCAA tournament.
One thing that we discuss in our recent Horizon article is the timing of the conference tournaments. Among the mid-major conferences the Horizon, WCC, Colonial, and Missouri Valley are notable leagues that have early conference tournaments. Some of the others conferences wait and finish up the Saturday before Selection Sunday. It is a huge advantage entering the NCAA tournament to have some extra time to rest, recover, and prepare and the teams from those conferences that make the Big Dance catch that break. It’s no surprise that some of the recent “Cinderella” teams and mid-major teams that have won NCAA tournament games have come out these conferences. Once the field of 65 is set take a look at when the conference tournaments ended when seeking some 1st round upsets, there may be a correlation between the extra time to prepare and the success in the tournament.