Conference Tournament Betting Previews

Re: Conference Tournament Betting Previews

Big West Tournament Betting Preview
By  Ian Cameron
Sportsmemo.com

The 2013 Big West Conference Tournament will take place March 14-16 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. The top eight teams qualified. In the semifinals, the highest seed will play the lowest seed, while the remaining two teams match up. Riverside is ineligible for postseason play, and thus will not compete in the tournament. Northridge finished 9th and also didn’t qualify.

Quarterfinal Pick: Cal Irvine Hawaii enjoyed a nice 9-4 start to Big West play but stumbled down the stretch losing four of its last six. Their only conference win during that time came by just 4 points at home against bottom-tier Santa Barbara. Hawaii ended the season playing dreadful basketball on the highway going 0-4 SU/ATS and I’m not sure they have any momentum going into this tournament against an Irvine squad that went 6-1 SU, 5-2 ATS in its last seven games. These teams split the regular season series with each team winning at home but Irvine is the more talented team and in much better form entering this tournament. They also have the situational edge playing in their home state and facing a team having to travel from the island to the mainland so I’m willing to support them in this short price range.

Darkhorse: UC Davis I’m reaching towards one of the bottom seeds as my darkhorse but with good reason. The Aggies went 6-4 SU in their last 10 games. They battled top seed Long Beach State tough in both meetings losing by 6 at LBSU and by just a single point at home. UC Davis also notched road wins at Fullerton and UCSB during that stretch of games. I also like the fact this team went 2-1 in neutral court games one of which was as an outright win as an underdog against Southern Illinois early in the season and they had the second best road record in the Big West behind only Long Beach State. They match up with Cal Poly in the quarterfinals and I don’t think there is a huge gap between those two teams especially with Davis and Poly splitting their two regular season meetings. If they can win that one, the Aggies might have what it takes to make a little bit of a run in this tournament.

Winner: Cal Irvine Top seed Long Beach State was the best team start to finish in the Big West Conference but Irvine ended the season as the hottest team winning six of their last seven games and I think they have what it takes to win this tournament. I made a lot of money backing this team early on in November and also cashed a couple tickets with Irvine late in the Big West conference season. They have the defensive acumen and size advantage on the interior to really frustrate teams inside the conference. The Anteaters have the 18th best FG defense in the country allowing foes to connect on only 38.7% from the floor. Let’s not forget that Irvine beat both USC and Nevada in non-conference and took UCLA to OT before losing by a single point. This is a dangerous team that is peaking at just the right time. I expect them to get past Hawaii in the quarterfinals and they would likely face Long Beach State in the semifinals. Irvine was able to split the season series with LBSU most recently winning 72-69 at home. That game will be their biggest test of the tournament but I give them more than a decent chance to pull the upset there. For as good as Long Beach State was in the conference, they are entering this tournament slumping just a bit – 1-2 SU, 0-3 ATS with road losses to Irvine and at blowout loss at Pacific. The 49ers were guilty of taking their foot off the gas pedal late in the season having already clinched first place with two weeks left. I have concerns about their ability to suddenly flip the switch and turn up the intensity after coasting for so long. I think the Anteaters have a great chance to go all the way here and grab an automatic berth into the Big Dance.

Conference Play Breakdown   

Best Offense - Cal Poly 109.6 ppp   
Best Defense - Pacific 98.2 ppp     
Best 3-point - UC Davis 43.1%
Best Free Throw - Fullerton 77.2% 
Fastest - Hawaii 69.3 (Northridge 69.3) 
Slowest - Poly 60.1

Schedule (All games in Anaheim, Calif.)

Thursday, March 14
#2 Pacific vs. #7 Santa Barbara
#3 Cal Poly vs. #6 UC Davis
#1 Long Beach State vs. #8 Fullerton
#4 Cal Irvine vs. #5 Hawaii

Friday, March 15
#2/#7 winner vs. #3/#6 winner
#1/#8 winner vs. #4/#5 winner

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Re: Conference Tournament Betting Previews

Big Ten Tournament Betting Preview
By Erin Rynning
Sportsmemo.com

Michigan State cut down the nets last year in Banker’s Life Fieldhouse as the winner of the Big Ten Tournament. The Spartans were the No. 1 seed which marked the fifth time in the last six years the top team won.  This year’s event moves to the United Center in Chicago and the bullseye will fall on the Indiana Hoosiers who won the regular season crown and earned the No. 1 seed after knocking off Michigan last Sunday.  However, this is as deep a tournament field as I can remember since the inaugural event in 1998.  For much of the regular season you could throw a blanket over Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and even Wisconsin.  Keep in mind in late December Minnesota and Illinois were respectively ranked 11th and 12th in the country and then play in the No. 8 vs. No. 9 game tomorrow.

First Round Pick/Darkhorse:  Iowa The Hawkeyes are a longshot to get to the Big Dance, but a rapidly improving basketball team, with a 20-11 record.  The Hawkeyes showed improvement down the stretch by winning six of their last eight games outright, while covering the pointspread in eight of their last 10.  Defensively, Iowa has shown vast improvement, holding teams to just 58.5 points per game down the stretch.  Keep in mind this team likes to push the pace as well.  The Hawkeyes have the talent to compete in the Big Ten and beyond with Roy-Devyn Marble and Aaron White leading the way.  The key for Iowa will simply be making shots.  Iowa ranks 229th in the country in field goal percentage, while an even more troubling 318th in three-point shooting.  If this team can shoot well they’ll easily roll over Northwestern and be “live” to make a deep tournament run.

Winner:  Michigan Again, this is an extremely tough call with such balance throughout the league.  The Wolverines stumbled all over themselves to close the season including a meltdown against the Hoosiers in the season finale.  In fact, the Wolverines closed the season covering just one of their last 10 games.  However, Big Blue still put up a phenomenal 25-6 record and has the talent and coaching to make a deep run in any postseason environment.  The bracket sets up well with multiple opportunities for redemption.  Michigan will open the tournament against Penn State.  Of course, the Nittany Lions pulled the shocker of the conference season beating the Wolverines by six as a 13-point underdog in Happy Valley.  While they should handle Penn State with ease, a showdown with Wisconsin would be on deck.  Remember the half-court shot by Ben Brust to thrust the Badgers into an overtime win against the Maize and Blue in early February? I bet Michigan sure does. A win for the Wolverines over Wisconsin would most likely lead to another shot against Indiana in the semifinals – a match-up that would make a fine NCAA title game.  The road through the Big Ten Tournament is tough but look for Trey Burke to carry the Wolverines to the title.

Conference Play Breakdown   

Best Offense - Indiana 1.13 ppp   
Best Defense - Wisconsin 90.8 ppp     
Best 3-point - Indiana 41.6%
Best Free Throw - Iowa 73.8%
Fastest - Indiana 65.7 
Slowest - Northwestern 59.6

Schedule (All games in Chicago)

Thursday, March 14
#8 Illinois vs. #9 Minnesota
#5 Michigan vs. #12 Penn State
#7 Purdue vs. #10 Nebraska
#6 Iowa vs. #11 Northwestern

Friday, March 15
#1 Indiana vs. #8/#9 Winner
#4 Wisconsin vs. #5/#12 Winner
#2 Ohio State vs. #7/#10 Winner
#3 Michigan State vs. #6/#10 Winner

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Re: Conference Tournament Betting Previews

ACC Tournament Betting Preview
By Rob Veno
Sportsmemo.com

The return of sharp shooting forward Ryan Kelly has most of the country believing that this is Duke’s tournament to lose. The bracket setup has the Blue Devils likely headed for a semifinal matchup with arch rival North Carolina who Duke dismantled at Chapel Hill last Saturday and then a potential showdown with Miami. Before we look too far ahead, there appears to be quite a bit of competitive basketball played between today’s first round and Friday’s quarterfinals. Youth will be in play as Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Virginia Tech and Clemson all have an abundance of underclassmen who are major contributors. With that in mind, results could be a bit random since there’s no real way of telling how players will react to this huge spotlight. Virginia and Maryland fit the “desperate team” bill here as they are both fighting to get into the Big Dance so expect fully focused efforts from each. Last season this tournament was played in Atlanta’s Phillips Arena but this year it is back in Greensboro Coliseum where in 2011, the tourney favorites went 8-3 against the spread. Of that 8-3 mark, it’s interesting to note that Duke was the No. 2 seed just as they are this time around and they went 3-0 ATS winning all three games by double-digits and defeating the pointspread by an average of 8.7 points per game. Totals the past couple of years are 12-10 O/U with no streak by round or individual team other than Maryland’s 3-1 O/U result. 

First Round Pick: Florida State  Clemson head coach Brad Brownell is one of many second or third year head coaches who came into the ACC with extremely impressive resumes but his Tigers are the one team that appears to be going backward rather than forward. A lot of Clemson’s disappointing season can be attributed to key personnel graduations and the subsequent youth movement they are now dealing with but the offense especially has regressed to the abysmal stage. Senior leaders Milton Jennings and Devon Booker are double-digit scoring interior forces but none of the next six players (all underclassmen) involved in Clemson’s eight-man rotation have stepped up as a consistent third scorer. The lack of scoring ability along with their poor free throw percentage figures to hurt the Tigers once more against this FSU team which played its best basketball of the season this past week upsetting North Carolina State and Virginia. The Seminoles won a pair of hard fought meeting this season by three and five points so in this situation, laying -2 looks to be a number they can handle.         

Darkhorse: North Carolina State Yes they have to go the four-wins-in-four-days route and yes it’s likely that they’ll have to face an ACC “murderers’ row” of sorts in order to cross the finish line. The list of opponents could include a desperation filled No. 4 Virginia, No. 1 Miami and either No. 2 Duke or No. 3 North Carolina in the final. But, NC State is the one team from the No. 5 spot down that matches up talent wise with any of the top four and they own the needed confidence in order to pull off this type of championship run. Last year’s bitter 69-67 loss in the semifinals to top seed North Carolina is also something which is implanted in their current mind set so expect this team to have the necessary focus and desire.   

Tournament Winner: Miami I know they staggered somewhat down the stretch but they seemed to regain their stability in the regular season finale. So much was made of Ryan Kelly’s 36-point performance in Duke’s win over the Hurricanes 12 days ago but what gets lost is how good Miami played. If it took a personal “game of the ages” as Mike Krzyzewski insisted it was, and if it took the advantage of playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium just to see Miami have a legitimate chance for OT at the buzzer, then why can’t the Hurricanes win on a neutral floor with revenge? Should Miami get to the final and face UNC, they are too strong defensively to be outscored so they are the pick to cut down the nets.   

Conference Play Breakdown   
Best Offense - Duke 1.15 ppp   
Best Defense - Miami 93.2 ppp     
Best 3-point - Duke 41.6%
Best Free Throw - Florida State 74.3%
Fastest - Wake Forest 69.0 
Slowest - Virginia 60.5

Schedule (All games in Greensboro, NC)

Thursday, March 14
#8 Boston College vs. #9 Georgia Tech
#5 NC State vs. #12 Virginia Tech
#7 Maryland vs. #10 Wake Forest
#6 Florida State vs. #11 Clemson

Friday, March 15
#1 Miami vs. #8/#9 Winner
#4 Virginia vs. #5/#12 Winner
#2 Duke vs. #7/#10 Winner
#3 North Carolina vs. #6/#11 Winner

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