The best week of basketball may not actually be the first round of the NCAA tournament but conference tournament week. It certainly is for the betting crowd. There are more games and they run all day and into the night this week. By mid-day Thursday you’re so enamored with basketball you begin wonder why anyone works at all during March. The best play is to get a few bets you like in and watch as much as you can.
ACC The Bracket https://www.ncaa.com/sites/default/files/public/images/2020/03/07/2020-acc-tournament-bracket.jpg The pick: Duke +225. Duke defeated top seed Florida State earlier this year and has the best mix of offensive and defensive efficiency in the conference and have improved from three. Duke would hope for a matchup against Virginia then in the championship where it would be unlikely a team that can only score 50 points a game would defeat them twice in one season. Longshot: Clemson +3000. Clemson has a quality defense but has struggled offensively this season. They come in losers of three out of their last four but outside the top four this conference their defense gives the best chance to go on a run.
Big 10 The Bracket https://www.ncaa.com/sites/default/files/public/images/2020/03/07/2020-acc-tournament-bracket.jpg The pick: Michigan State +325. The Spartans have won five of six, are very balanced, and play great defense. Izzo teams get better in March and I checked the calendar; it is March. Longshot: Iowa +800. The Hawkeyes have too good of an offense and a candidate for national player of the year to say they don’t have a chance. If Garza stays out of foul trouble and gets a little support they are certainly a contender.
Big 12 The Bracket https://www.ncaa.com/sites/default/files/public/images/2020/03/07/2020-big-12-tournament-bracket.jpg The Pick: Kansas +110. It’s obvious and easy and I don’t see any way not to make this pick. Great guard play, dominant inside, and second in the country in defensive efficiency. Longshot: Texas Tech +800. The Red Raiders would likely have to beat Kansas and likely Baylor to win and losing four straight can’t be good for confidence. Beard will be hoping this team can get going in the right direction fast.
Big East The Bracket https://www.ncaa.com/sites/default/files/public/images/2020/03/07/2020-big-east-tournament-bracket.pdf The Pick: Villanova+350. Winners of seven of their last eight the Wildcats are hot at the right time. While they don’t have the offense of the trendy Creighton pick here they are a more balanced team on both sides of the ball. Long(er)shot: Butler +500. Butler split the season games with both Providence and Creighton, their likely first two opponents here. The Bulldogs have won three in a row giving them a little boost coming in.
PAC 12 The Bracket https://www.ncaa.com/sites/default/files/public/images/2020/02/12/2020-pac-12-tournament-bracket.pdf The Pick: Oregon +250. The defense can be suspect but it’s the PAC 12 so I don’t think that surprises anyone and the Ducks have one of the most offensively efficient teams in the country with a player of the year candidate in Payton Pritchard. They’re also the second best three point shooting percentage team in the country but their offense doesn’t rely on it, they get less than 35% of their points each game from three. Long(er)shot: Arizona +350. Here’s a team with a very good defense and an above average offense. They struggled down the stretch but kept it close against all the top teams in the conference during the tough schedule.
SEC The Bracket https://www.ncaa.com/sites/default/files/public/images/2020/03/07/2020-sec-tournament-bracket-schedule.pdf The Pick: Kentucky +175. Assuming Ashton Hagans is back for the tournament this is probable the most complete team in the conference with one of the top coaches in the country. Longshot: Florida +700. They would have to play an extra game and go through Kentucky again as well as a likely matchup with Auburn or LSU in the final, but the Gators have good talent and Kerry Blackshear is one of the best in the country. An up and down year for this team with a need for some underclassmen to step up for tournament runs.
Good luck with conference tournament play! Keep an eye out for some big things to come as the bracket comes out!