The 2023 NCAA basketball conference tournament season is upon us. I will give my best bets for the conference tournament that began February 27th, 28th, or March 1. The odds are courtesy of Fanduel.
Big South Conference
The 2023 Big South Tournament is a solid betting opportunity with no overwhelming favorite. Longwood is the slight favorite (+230) over UNC Ashville (+270). Gardner-Webb and Radford are good values at +410 and +500, respectively. All games are played at the Bojangles Coliseum, with the quarterfinals kick-starting the tournament on Wednesday night.
The Big South Tournament is known for upsets and wild games. Since the conference changed its format from divisional seeding to seeding based on overall league record, the No. 1 seeded team has won the tournament crown three times in the past eight years. The top seed has won the last two titles.
Best Bet: UNC Asheville (+270)
It is interesting to note that all three times that the No. 1 seed won the conference tournament during this stretch, they were the outright conference champions. UNC Asheville (24-7,16-2), this year’s top seed, won the conference by four games. The Bulldogs’ two league losses were by a combined eight points, with both setbacks coming on the road.
UNC Asheville was good away from home, posting an 11-7 record, including 1-1 on a neutral court. While the Bulldogs finished second and third in scoring and scoring defense in conference play, they led the league in field goal and 3-point field goal percentage as well as field goal and 3-point percentage defense. They also have the conference’s best player in 6-10 forward Drew Pember.
The 2023 Northeast Conference Tournament has a long history of being dominated by the top seeds. Since 2010, the top 3 teams have reached the conference finals nine times. The No. 1 seed has won the conference tournament five times during this stretch, including twice in the past three years.
Regular season champion Merrimack (15-16, 12-4), ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, enters tournament play as the favorite at -110. Second-place Fairleigh Dickinson (17-10, 10-6) is the second choice on the betting line at +270, while Wagner (+850), Sacred Heart (+950), and Saint Francis, PA (+900) are long shots.
Due to reclassifying rules, Stonehill, tied with FDU for second place, is ineligible to participate in the NEC Tournament. The conference tournament quarterfinals begin on March 1, with the higher seeds hosting the games throughout.
Best Bet: Fairleigh Dickinson +270
I like FDU here. The Knights are the NEC’s top offensive team and very well-balanced, with six players averaging six or more points a game, including four who average double-figures. They are an outstanding shooting team, play fast, and don’t turn the ball over.
FDU beat Merrimack both times they met this year. The Knights have also shown they can win on the road and at home.
Ohio Valley Conference
The OVC uses an interesting format. Eight of the conference’s tournament teams are in Evansville (Ind.) to participate in the 2023 event, with the top two seeds receiving byes to the semifinals. The Conference Tournament’s first round begins on March 1.
Regular season champion Morehead State (+130) is a slight favorite. No. 2 seed Tennessee Tech (+330) is next in line, followed by UT-Martin (+800), Tennessee State (+800), and SIU-Edwardsville (+850).
Best Bet: Morehead State (+130)
Morehead State is the conference’s best defensive team and is excellent at protecting the rim. Offensively, the Eagles are one of the best shooting teams in the league, and they don’t turn the ball over. They also like to control the pace.
Other Best Bets For Tournaments That Begin on Feb. 27 and Feb. 28
Horizon League: Cleveland State (+600)
Patriot League: Colgate (-220)
Atlantic Sun: Liberty (-195)
Horizon League: Pass. The tournament is wide open, with Marshall, James Madison, Louisiana, and Southern Miss capable of claiming the conference crown.