Makinen: College Basketball later mid-major conference tourney betting trends

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Last week, I introduced the first of a three-part series on key betting data for college basketball conference tournaments. In it, I covered the 14 mid-major conferences that tipped off their tournaments between February 27th and March 5th. In this second part, I will be covering the 11 mid-major conferences starting their tournaments a bit later, specifically March 7th or beyond. The third part in the series, covering the power conferences, will be released shortly.

 

In last week’s piece, I explained how many bettors and fans find the two-week span of conference tournament games even more exhilarating than the postseason action. There are more games, the matchups are familiar, and we get a glimpse of all the title hopefuls. For those of you that tend to invest more heavily in this time period than you will later in March, this conference tournament betting data, specifically team performance records, trends, and systems are made just for you.

The angles that I have chosen to look at focused on three key areas, with combinations of each in some cases. Those areas were bye games, rounds, and line ranges.

A reminder of the general thought I introduced last week. Bettors need to understand the value of having a bye in conference tournaments is significant, especially when they are believed to be the better team. In fact, heading into the 2023 action, conference tournament favorites off a bye are 552-174 SU and 345-299-17 ATS (53.6%) over the last nine seasons against teams that played earlier in that tournament. There has been profit in betting that and considering nothing else.

Note: All of these betting systems included games heading into the respective 2023 tournaments.

The leagues covered in this second mid-major piece include:

AMERICAN ATHLETIC
ATLANTIC 10
BIG WEST
CONFERENCE USA
IVY LEAGUE
METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC
MAC
MEAC
MOUNTAIN WEST
SWAC
WAC

For my latest strength ratings, including Power Ratings, Effective Strength indicators, Bettors’ Ratings, Recent Ratings, and Schedule Strengths, visit the NCAAMBB TEAM POWER RANKINGS page on VSiN.com, sortable by conference.

AMERICAN ATHLETIC

  • In the American quarterfinals, underdogs of 6 points or less that played in the opening round are on a 5-0 SU and ATS streak vs. teams that enjoyed a bye. In that same span since ’14, underdogs of 6.5 points or higher are 1-18 SU and 8-11 ATS (42.1%).
  • In the eight-year history of the AAC tourney, UNDER the total is 6-1-1 (85.7%) in the championship game. Favorites are 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS (75%) in those contests, allowing just 57.5 PPG.

ATLANTIC 10

  • Atlantic 10 teams off a bye are on a 28-6 SU and 21-12-1 ATS (63.6%) ATS run vs. teams that have played already in the tournament since 2016.
  • The Atlantic 10 is one of just a few conferences that host a “second round” in its tournament. Favorites have been nearly automatic in this round since ’14, going 29-2 SU. Those laying 5.5 points or less are on an incredible 15-1 SU and ATS (93.8%) surge.
  • Atlantic 10 favorites are on a run of 15-1 SU and 13-3 ATS (81.3%) in the quarterfinal round.

BIG WEST

  • There has been a significant benchmark line point in recent years of the Big West tourney, and that has been 7.5 points. Favorites of 7.5 points or more are 15-0 SU and 9-5-1 ATS (64.3%) since 2014, while underdogs of 7 points or less have gone 29-16-3 ATS (64.4%) in that same span.
  • Favorites in the semifinal round of the Big West tournament are just 7-9 SU and 4-10-2 ATS (28.6%) since ’14.
  • Totals of 140 or less in the Big West tourney are 10-2 UNDER (83.3%) since ’14.

CONFERENCE USA

  • In Conference USA, favorites have been a reliable wager over the last seven years, going 54-20 SU and 45-28-1 ATS (57.5%) during that stretch.
  • Teams off a bye in an earlier round(s) are on a 30-9 SU and 23-16 ATS (59%) run in the CUSA tourney versus teams that have already played.
  • Conference USA tournament games have gone UNDER the total at a 29-12 (70.7%) rate since ’18.

IVY LEAGUE

  • All three Ivy League tournament games went UNDER the total last year after six of the first nine went OVER.
  • All seven of the Ivy League tourney favorites of 4-points or more have won outright, going 4-2-1 ATS (66.7%).

METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC

  • The highest totaled games (154 ) in the MAAC tourney have trended significantly UNDER of late, 12-1 (92.3%) in the last 13.
  • The smallest of favorites have been the most successful of late in the MAAC tournament, with those laying 2 points or fewer going 12-2 SU and ATS (85.7%) since ’14.
  • Byes have not been a reward lately for the MAAC’s top teams as those teams off of byes playing against teams that have played already are just 7-8 SU and 3-12 ATS (20%) since ’16 in this bracket.

MID-AMERICAN

  • Favorites of 4.5 points or more in the MAC tourney boast a record of 28-4 SU since 2017, however, their ATS record is a more modest 17-14-1 (54.8%). Favorites of 4 points or fewer are on a 5-14 SU and 3-16 ATS skid (15.8%).

MID-EASTERN ATHLETIC

  • Small underdogs of 5 points or less are on a highly profitable 12-8 SU and 17-3 ATS (85%) run up through the quarterfinal round of the MEAC tournament.
  • Seven of the last eight (87.5%) MEAC Championship games went UNDER the total
  • MEAC Semifinal favorites are on a 7-2 SU and ATS (77.8%) surge.

MOUNTAIN WEST

  • Since 2011, Mountain West Conference tourney favorites of 5.5 points or less are on a 36-16 ATS (69.2%) surge.
  • MWC teams facing an opponent that had an earlier round bye are just 2-16 SU and 6-12 ATS (33.3%) as underdogs of fewer than 12 points since ‘14. In all other line scenarios, including when favored, they are 8-0 ATS

SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC

  • Upsets have proven to be quite rare in the SWAC tourney recently, as favorites are 50-14 SU and 33-28-3 ATS (54.1%) in their last 64 games.
  • SWAC semifinal favorites boast a record of 12-3 SU and 9-5-1 ATS (64.3%) since ’14.

WESTERN ATHLETIC

  • When you think WAC tourney, think CHALK, as favorites are on a 47-5 SU and 33-19 ATS (63.5%) run over the last eight years, including 26-12 ATS (68.4%) on single-digit lines.
  • WAC championship favorites are on a 10-1 SU and ATS (90.9%) surge, with the only loss coming in 2021 when Grand Canyon won as a 1-point dog.
  • Totals higher than 147 are on a 10-2 UNDER (83.3%) run in the WAC tourney.
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Steve Makinen
As one of the original founders of StatFox, Steve Makinen has been in the business of sports betting and data analysis for almost 25 years now. In his time in the industry, Steve has worked in a variety of capacities on both sides of the betting counter, from his early days of developing the StatFox business, to almost a decade of oddsmaking consulting for one of the world's leading sportsbooks, to his last seven years as Point Spread Weekly and Analytics Director with VSiN. Steve has always believed that number crunching and handicapping through foundational trends and systems is the secret to success and he shares this data with VSiN readers on a daily basis for all of the major sports.