While some of these tournaments have already started, it doesn’t matter as each of these conferences have a clear favorite where it’s the tournament is just a formality for their inevitable success later this week or earlier next week. But it’s March so that means that bad basketball teams can turn into the Mon-stars from Space Jam so let’s get into the previews and predictions.
The Ohio Valley Conference Tournament: March 4-7
A conference that features a great two horse race every year, Murray State vs. Belmont, is back again with the same two teams in the top two spots for their conference title. While there aren’t any insane prospects like Dylan Windler or Ja Morant, but Belmont and Murray State still have respectable teams.
For the 2020 OVC tournament, Belmont enter as the favorites after tying Murray State in the regular season with 15-3 conference records. Given 1-1.5 odds to win the tournament, Belmont only has to play two games thanks to the double bye of the OVC tournament. Belmont should have no trouble beating Eastern Kentucky (most likely) and then facing (again most likely) Murray State in the final. The Racers are given 2.25-1 odds which is a large gap from Belmont’s odds so there could be some nice value there. I will trust the Bruins to get the job done but watch out for Austin Peay, they’re playing some nice basketball. Go Bruins.
The Mountain West Tournament: March 4-7
While the Chinese would argue this is the year of the Rat, this is the year of the Aztecs. Since not having this amount of success since the peak of their empire in the 1500’s they’re back winning the grand prize of the Mountain West conference, as opposed to a Central American empire. San Diego State (1-1.9 to win the tournament) has to be one of the most random teams to come out of absolutely nowhere and (probably) snag a #1 seed in March Madness. After a stumble against UNLV, will there be any conquistadors in the Mountain West tournament?
No there will not be. Having one of the most insane time scheduling brackets with games in the early afternoon and the usual 10:00pm west coast game. In what will be a great tournament outside of the Aztec’s games, there’s been a 67% upset rate with #9 Air Force beating #8 Fresno State and #11 Wyoming beating #6 Colorado State. The Wolf Pack of Nevada (13.5-1 to win the tournament) will face Wyoming in what should be a blow out, similarly SDSU will destroy the Air Force academy, and Utah State (3.2-1 to win the tournament) could face a challenge from New Mexico, but ultimately prevail. SDSU will be out for blood against UNLV (who I predict to beat Boise State) and destroy them. Nevada Utah State will get the first “Must Watch” tag from me as both teams need to win to give them hopes of the NCAA tournament. Finally, SDSU will beat Nevada in a thriller. I’ve been finding myself staying up to watch the Mountain West, similarly to football season but thank god Hawai’i isn’t in this conference for basketball as that would give me no sleep, ever. The Aztecs are for real and they darn well might make a run quite deep in March. See you in Atlanta? Go Aztecs.
The Missouri Valley Tournament: March 5-8
Yes, this is the Sister Jean conference. Outside of that one year, the Northern Iowa Wildcats have darn near become a blueblood in their own way, thanks to making the tournament seemingly every season. I’ll keep the praise on the 1-1.05 favorite Wildcats short as they’ve featured on my “Bad Conference Teams” March Madness Preview so go check that out for their extensive breakdown.
Outside of the Wildcats you have the Loyola Sister Jean’s as the second seed, and Larry Bird’s Indiana State in the third spot. Loyola has been given 3.25-1 odds to win while Indiana State has 7.5-1 odds. I really can’t see the Wildcats losing due to them probably needing this auto bids to get into the tournament for sure, so they won’t be taking any chances. Go Wildcats.
The West Coast Conference Tournament: March 5-10
Not only does this tournament make it impossible for Cinderella’s, you also got the rolling ball of chainsaws in Gonzaga lurking at the top of the mountain to face in the final if any team can even get there not names Saint Mary’s or BYU. The WCC makes it so #5 San Francisco and #6 Pepperdine get a bye, #4 Pacific and #3 Saint Mary’s get a double bye, and #2 BYU and #1 Gonzaga get a, wait for it, TRIPLE BYE. So hypothetically if #7 Santa Clara wanted to go to the tournament, they’d have to play five games in six days to face Gonzaga who will be fully rested and healthy.Gonzaga is the heaviest favorite currently having 1-3.7 odds to win their tournament being as close to a guarantee as you can get. BYU and Saint Mary’s are both tournament teams regardless of their successes or failures in the WCC tournament so could a team like #6 Pepperdine get hot? BYU will provide a good championship game opponent for Gonzaga as they split the season series. As much as I want to say BYU, Gonzaga has to be the pick here. Go Bulldogs.