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It’s conference tournament time as teams volley for position to the Big Dance.

On Thursday we start the Missouri Valley, which will take place at Scottrade Center in St. Louis. Heads and toes above the rest in this conference is Wichita State who will be a big favorite no matter who they come up against. Northern Iowa and Illinois State are about eight points behind in the second level.

On Friday we have the Colonial Conference at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. This one is very wide open with James Madison and NC-Wilmington a few points better than Hofstra, Charleston, Towson and William & Mary. Nothing would surprise here.

If you are looking for something to do this Friday, just head over to the Orleans Arena right here in Las Vegas and take in the West Coast Conference first round games. The winner will most likely be either Gonzaga or BYU but Saint Mary’s is close behind in what is a three team race.

On Saturday the Horizon gets underway at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. Valparaiso is the best team, around two buckets better than Oakland and the same vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee. We think the winner will come from one of those three with Wright State our fourth choice.

Ok now, let’s take a little look at three conferences who start their games next week.

The Big East

The two big guns in the Big East are Villanova and Xavier. Villanova just lost at Xavier last Wednesday and then the Musketeers fell to Seton Hall on Sunday in what was a very bad spot for them. We would like to see the Xavier/Seton Hall matchup again next week at Madison Square Garden where the Big East tournament will be played. Sitting behind top dog Villanova and Xavier is Butler, who would be around a five-point dog vs. Nova and a three-point dog vs. Xavier on a neutral court. Seton Hall and Creighton look to be the next two. This is Villanova’s tournament to lose and if we have the Nova/Xavier return matchup we will lay the two points with Nova.

The Big 12

As usual Kansas is the top dog in the Big 12 but we do have some real good teams that could jump up and be heard come tournament time next Wednesday at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Oklahoma has the talent but at times they don’t play like it. If they come to play, look out. If West Virginia can play in Kansas City like they do at home they could go far. Baylor and Texas are around seven points behind Kansas and five behind Oklahoma. We could see a surprise in Kansas City.

The Pac 12

The jammed up Pac 12 looks very wide open. Oregon sits atop the conference standings due to great play at home but not so good on the road. Utah is second with California third. Arizona and Colorado are right behind. The Pac 12 means more excitement for Las Vegas as they start next Wednesday, March 9, at the MGM Grand Arena with four games starting at noon. If you are a hoops fan it just doesn’t get any better as you can stop off at the book, make a bet, watch the game, go cash and bet the next game. This bettor thinks Arizona is a bucket better than Utah on a neutral court and four better than Oregon and California with UCLA just a point behind in what should be a wild event. Zona may get a lot of fan support along with Utah.

After last week’s games we still have Michigan State sitting on top of our brackets as they romp their way to the Final Four.

One For Thursday

With the win last Thursday our record moved to 3-2.

Stanford travels to Tempe to take on the Sun Devils who will be a very small favorite. This is the last home game of the season for Bob Hurley and ASU as they catch the Cardinal off huge revenge game vs. arch rival UCLA Bruins. ARIZONA STATE.


They ran the Fountain of Youth this past Saturday at Gulfstream Park, which was worth 50 Kentucky Derby points. The purse was $400k and even with all that cash and all those Derby points the race attracted just six runners. The undefeated Mohaymen, who is at the top of most Kentucky Derby lists, got the best of the previously undefeated Zulu who finished second.

This bettor was not overly impressed with the race and will take a wait and see approach until the $1 million Florida Derby when the undefeated and 2-year-old champ Nyquist motors into town running not only for the huge purse but also for a cool million dollar bonus if he wins. Do you think his connections will have him ready? He can win more cash this race than if he wins the Kentucky Derby. We look forward to Nyquist and Mohaymen laying it down at Gulfstream on Saturday, April 2.

There is no reason to sit on that couch. Make a bet, get some popcorn and take in a hoops game right here in Vegas. You just could be walking around lucky.

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GT’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Twitter: @SabesBet. Email: [email protected].

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