With the Arizona Wildcats, Oregon Ducks and UCLA Bruins all ranked in the Top 10, the Pac-12 tournament shapes up as having three highly motivated NCAA Tournament-bound teams.
The Ducks are the slim +160 favorite with the Bruins – and star point guard Lonzo Ball – the +170 second favorite to win the Pac-12 tourney in Las Vegas, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Ducks enter as the top seed and have an impressive lineup fronted by the conference player of the year, Dillon Brooks.
The Bruins are a thrilling-to-watch offensive show, leading the nation in scoring and shooting percentage. They are not invincible, though, and their path through the bracket involves a potential semifinal against the Arizona Wildcats (+265), who are very stout defensively and have dominant scorers in PF Lauri Markkanen and SG Allonzo Trier.
On the odds to win the Big East, the defending national champion Villanova Wildcats (-130) are the sole major conference team to be better than an even-money favorite. It’s possible the Wildcats and star Josh Hart could provide an easy return. The Butler Bulldogs (+450) have accounted for two of the Wildcats’ three losses and freshman PG Kamar Baldwin has provided a spark.
The Big Ten board is headed by top-seeded Purdue (+200), since no one seems to be able to slow down Boilermakers big man Caleb Swanigan. Purdue’s side of the bracket includes the Minnesota Golden Gophers (+750), who are coming in hot with at 8-1 straight-up record over their last nine games and also have an outstanding rim protector in C Reggie Lynch (3.5 blocks per game).
The Wisconsin Badgers (+260) aren’t as deep as their Final Four teams of the recent past, but PF Nigel Hayes and Co. are capable of taking it if there’s an upset.
The Kansas Jayhawks (+145), befitting the top team in the country, lead the Big 12 tournament odds. This iteration looks like a national title contender, with PG Frank Mason running the show. The West Virginia Mountaineers (+190) draw in second in the bracket, as well as on the board largely due to having a win against Kansas to their credit.
However, if one believes the top team is going to fall short, sometimes it’s better to back a semifinal opponent who catches the heavyweight looking ahead to to the title game. In this case, the Iowa State Cyclones (+700) and PG Monte Morris could stun Kansas if they meet on Saturday. The Baylor Bears (+475) are just too inconsistent to back.
The SEC tournament board reflects a two-team race, with the Kentucky Wildcats (+100) and Florida Gators (+165) far ahead of anyone else. Names and faces change fast with college basketball’s Big Blue – SG Malik Monk and C Bam Adebayo lead the ‘Cats these days – but Kentucky typically stays focused in the SEC tourney. They are 8-1-1 ATS in their last 10 tourney games.
The Gators’ size could pose problems, though, and Florida is one of the five teams with a win against Kentucky although the Wildcats won the rematch.