College Basketball Betting Trends: How Gamblers are Approaching Conference Tournament Frenzy

Conference basketball tournaments hit full tilt with a mix of value-seeking futures and frenzied game-by-game wagering. They also become scouting opportunities for the Big Dance next week. Here are some college basketball betting trends across the sportsbook landscape.

College Basketball Betting Lines

Here are college basketball odds from BetMGM Sportsbook.

Conference Tournament Betting Trends at DraftKings: Seeking Diamonds in the Rough

“Bettors are looking for a team they believe is primed to make a run in the tournament,” Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told Gaming Today. “In most cases, that’s not the chalk.

“They may want a team that played well late in the season, lost a couple close games, and then they will bet that team to put a few games together in the tournament.

“It’s almost never a team that was 7-12 and makes it to the tournament, just because every team does,” he added. “But are you going to see a pretty good team that was 16-14, maybe had an awful season but needs to make a big run to get into the big tournament? You could see that.”

Avello said the Big 10, SEC, Pac-12, and Big East are some of the most popular conference betting tournaments at DraftKings.

Gamblers know these teams well, and that may be one place to find hidden value.

Lesser-known circuits may reveal even bigger surprises.

“There are many teams in many conferences that people don’t pay attention to every day,” Avello noted. “How many players have ever made a bet on Grambling or Southern Utah in their whole lives? Well, maybe they will see value at Southern Utah at +700 this week and play it.”

Southern Utah, 20-11, is third-seeded in the WAC conference and is well-priced in comparison to top-seeded Sam Houston at +120. Each team beat the other on its home floor this season.

The Las Vegas-based tournament represents a neutral site. Based on those parameters, Southern Utah represents value.

Read: Pac-12 Tournament odds

March Madness Betting Popularity Soars

Avello said conference tournaments have always been strong writes. When he ran brick-and-mortar establishments like the Wynn in Las Vegas, customers flocked to the book to gain March Madness excitement without the overflow crowds.

Popularity has carried over into the online realm.

Avello believes a conference tournament final would likely draw the same business as any March Madness first-round game next week.

Caesars College Hoops Betting Trends: Six Teams Open With Single-Digit Odds

The Big 12 was the lone conference tournament to have six teams open with single-digit odds this week, Caesars Sportsbook reports.

Kansas and Texas were originally +330 co-favorites, followed by Baylor (+450), Iowa State (+700), Kansas State (+750), and TCU (+800).

Now the Jayhawks stand alone at +220, while the Longhorns have slightly dropped to +300. Parity marks this conference.

Texas has drawn the most bets of any team to win the Big 12 tourney, seizing 35.4% of the tickets and 33.6% of the handle. The Longhorns own a home victory over Kansas.

TCU has taken over the third spot at +500, with Baylor (+550), Kansas State (+800), and Iowa State (+1000), rounding out the top group.

The Horned Frogs have reeled in the second-most Big 12 tournament tickets at 23.0% and are third in handle at 24.9%. They also hold a victory over Texas.

Kansas is third in tickets at 14.9% and second in handle at 31.3%.

Check out: Big 12 Tournament odds

Conference Tournament Bettors in Ten-Grand Land

There have been six $10,000 wagers placed at Caesars for conference tournaments.

The only team with two of them is VCU, with a Colorado bettor and a New Jersey gambler each laying it on VCU (+200) for the A-10.

A New York bettor dropped $10,000 on UC Irvine (+210) to win the Big West.

The SEC drew three of the $10,000 wagers on three separate teams, which impacts the betting percentage.

A Colorado bettor put $10,000 on Alabama (+175), a Tennessee gambler staked $10,000 on Tennessee (+350) and an Illinois bettor placed $10,000 on Texas A&M (+650).

As a result, Alabama has the top handle at 26.2%, with Tennessee and Texas A&M next at 21.0% and 19.1% respectively.

Kentucky still leads the way with 31.4% of the tickets for SEC but is only fourth in handle at 17.9%.

As for the betting odds, Alabama began Wednesday at +150 after starting off at +175.

Kentucky holds the second-lowest odds at +350 (opened +475), with Tennessee right behind at +400 (opened +270).

Texas A&M is also nearby at +550 (opened at +550 and reached as high as +650), while Arkansas (+1200), Auburn (+1600), and Missouri (+2000).

Also read: SEC Tournament odds

Big Ten Tournament: Best Betting Value and One Long Shot

Purdue began Wednesday as the +160 chalk, but bettors prefer Indiana, which beat Purdue twice within the last month.

Indiana, at a value-laden +500, notched the most futures handle in the conference at 33.2%.

Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis
College basketball bettors are backing Trayce Jackson-Davis and Indiana in the Big Ten conference tournament (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Maryland (+800) has 14.6% of the money while Iowa (+1200) has 14.5%. They are the only three teams drawing more than 10% of the handle.

Purdue has the ninth-most handle at 3.8% along with the seventh-most tickets at 5.5%.

One New Jersey bettor put $400 on Nebraska back when the Cornhuskers were +25000 for a potential win of $100,000, while an Ontario bettor has $300 on Nebraska (+2500) for a potential $75,000 payday.

One long shot leading its conference in tickets is Virginia Tech. The Hokies have moved from +4500 to +2500 for the ACC, as their 15.7% mark for tickets is just edging out Miami (+300) for the lead.

Duke (+260), however, is out in front for handle by a good amount at 28.5%, with Miami also in second in that category at 19.8%.

Madison Square Garden is the home of the unparalleled Big East tournament. UConn and Creighton have been bouncing around +230 co-favored status since Tuesday.

The Bluejays have commanded a whopping 50.0% of the handle to win the Big East tournament, even with the Huskies on top in tickets at 22.5%.

UConn is second in handle at 25.2%, followed by Marquette (+360) at 7.04%, Xavier (+500) at 6.98%, and Villanova (+850) at 6.96% — all neck-and-neck with one another.

Bookmark this: Big Ten Tournament odds

BetMGM Betting Trends: Miami Leads Way in ACC Tournament

Miami is leading the way with 19.1 % of the futures handle at BetMGM Sportsbook. Duke is next at 13.3%

Virginia Tech comes in third at 12.2%, and North Carolina is fourth with 12.1%

Virginia is next with 10.4%, followed closely by Pittsburgh at 9.9% and Syracuse at 9.1%.

The odds have remained steady, but some bettors are taking fliers. Virginia Tech not only has double-digit handle support but rose from +4000 to +3000.

Longshot Notre Dame received enough money to go from +35000 to +15000.

Read: ACC Tournament odds

About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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