CBB Picks: Breaking Down WCC, Missouri Valley tournaments and more

The next seven conference tournaments to tip off from Thursday-Sunday possess a ton of familiar teams at the top of their brackets.

Gonzaga, Loyola Chicago and Vermont have been at the top of their respective conferences for quite some time and the conference tournament odds for each program reflects that.

Gonzaga and Vermont are the easy selections to win the WCC and America East tournaments, but the numbers on their own are not worth betting on because of the steep price.

There is always a situation in which one of the heavy favorites fall, which is why I outlined a potential darkhorse pick with odds of +400 or higher to win the tournaments.

The majority of the tournaments take place over a few days and all but one that begins between Thursday and Sunday will have the automatic bid decided by the end of Tuesday night.

Missouri Valley

Tournament Dates: March 3-6 (Final: Sunday, Noon ET, CBS)

My Pick: Loyola Chicago (+130)

The national focus on the Missouri Valley tournament will be on Loyola Chicago's at-large hopes.

The Ramblers are dangling right on the bubble and they are not a true lock to win the MVC tournament. They lost to Northern Iowa in their regular-season finale and are the No. 4 seed in the bracket.

Loyola and UNI should meet again in the semifinal round on Saturday and the winner will be favored in Sunday's title game.

Loyola needs to win Arch Madness to feel safe about its NCAA tournament prospects, especially with other bubble teams in power conferences owning chances to jump it next week.

Winning Arch Madness will not be as easy as previous seasons, but I do think Loyola uses the loss to UNI as motivation and ends up cutting down the nets in St. Louis.

Darkhorse Pick: Missouri State (+300)

Missouri State only has to face one of Loyola or UNI and that will not be until the final.

Missouri State's offense ranks in the top 50 in five offensive metrics and it has a road win over Loyola from the regular season.

It feels like the Bears are the clear No. 3 behind Loyola and UNI, but their path to the final could make them an intriguing team to bet on.

Sun Belt

Tournament Dates: March 3, 5-7 (Final: Monday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

My Pick: Texas State (+250)

Texas State earned the No. 1 seed in the Sun Belt tournament by way of a nine-game winning streak.

The Bobcats held all but one of their opponents in that stretch below 70 points and they will win games with their defense.

Texas State ranks 338th in adjusted tempo, but it also sits 12th in three-point percentage. It has been effective on both sides of the ball and it is well equipped to win three games in three days to earn the Sun Belt automatic bid.

There could also be some motivation within the Texas State squad to win after dropping out in the quarterfinal round against eventual winner Appalachian State last season.

Darkhorse Pick: Coastal Carolina (+1200)

The Sun Belt tournament was won by a team that captured four victories in four days in 2021, so why not channel that energy again?

Coastal Carolina is the No. 7 seed in the Sun Belt bracket, but it is the third-best team in the conference on KenPom. The Chanticleers have the 11th-best three-point defense and rank 23rd in defensive effective field-goal percentage.

The Chants are aligned with App State in the bracket. They took App State to overtime and lost by one in back-to-back games on January 13 and 15.

Coastal also holds a regular-season win over Georgia State, the No. 3 seed, from an overtime clash on January 22.

The odds are not great for a team to win at +1200, but the path is there for Coastal to make the final because of how tough they played App State and Georgia State.

West Coast Conference

Tournament Dates: March 3-5, 7-8 (Final: Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET)

My Pick: Gonzaga (-380)

Gonzaga only needs to win two games in Las Vegas to be crowned West Coast Conference tournament champion.

The WCC uses a ladder bracket in which the top six seeds enter round-by-round.

The format favors the top teams in the conference and it is hard to pick against one of top two seeds.

Unfortunately in this case, betting Gonzaga at -380 gives you no value, so I would not bet that and focus on single games.

Darkhorse Pick: Saint Mary's (+425)

Saint Mary's is not exactly a darkhorse program, but in terms of the odds, it is the only pick worth endorsing.

Since the WCC went to the ladder bracket in 2019, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds faced off in all but one of the tournament finals.

Saint Mary's just beat Gonzaga on its home court and it is best equipped to beat the Zags in Las Vegas.

If you are betting on a WCC tournament future, Saint Mary's is the play based off the numbers available.


Tournament Dates: March 4-7 (Final: Monday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN)

My Pick: Chattanooga (+200)

Chattanooga and Furman are separated by two spots on the KenPom overall rankings.

Furman is the favorite to win the SoCon tournament despite being the No. 2 seed in the bracket for the tournament held in Asheville.

Chattanooga owns the edge in my eyes because it beat Furman on two occasions in the regular season and it has been the class of the SoCon all season long.

The Mocs rank inside the top 100 in most offensive metrics. They are 36th in free-throw shooting and 57th in two-point offense among others. They also rank 36th in three-point defense, which is key when defending Furman's 14th-ranked three-point offense.

Chattanooga should make it to the SoCon tournament final with relative ease and I favor it over Furman if the top two seeds advance to the final game.

Darkhorse Pick: Samford (+2000)

Samford is the No. 3 seed in the SoCon tournament, but it is tied for fifth on the odds chart to cut down the nets.

Samford comes into Asheville with six wins in its last seven games and the only loss came to Chattanooga.

Sometimes it's best to trust the hot team in March and Samford carries that type of vibe.

If the Bulldogs make the final, you have a chance to cash out for a decent price since they will not be a +2000 money-line underdog against anyone in the SoCon.

Colonial Athletic Association

Tournament Dates: March 5-8 (Final: Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network)

My Pick: Towson (+100)

Towson closed the CAA regular season with seven straight wins, including a 24-point victory over No. 2 seed UNC Wilmington.

Towson positioned itself as the favorite to win the CAA automatic bid and it resides on the easier side of the bracket.

The Tigers should be able to deal with Delaware or Drexel in the semifinal, and it will be favored against UNC Wilmington if chalk holds on the opposite side of the bracket.

Darkhorse Pick: UNC Wilmington (+1200)

I will say this from first-hand experience.

UNC Wilmington has been undervalued on the odds all season because its metrics across the board stink.

The Seahawks finished the CAA regular season with a 15-3 record and it started league action with nine straight wins.

UNC Wilmington can certainly win the CAA tournament because of its winning experience, but the 79-55 loss to Towson on February 17 looms large over its title hopes.

Summit League

Tournament Dates: March 5-8 (Final: Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET ESPN2)

My Pick: South Dakota State (-175)

South Dakota State went undefeated in the Summit League regular season.

The Jackrabbits rank first in the nation in effective field-goal percentage and three-point percentage.

South Dakota State puts up 90 points on a regular basis and it could cause trouble to a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament if it lands the Summit League automatic bid.

The Jackrabbits won close games in all four of their meetings with North Dakota State and Oral Roberts, the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, so they do have experience winning close matchups.

The one concern with South Dakota State is the small margins of victory in those games and that may allow for an upset.

Darkhorse Pick: Oral Roberts (+500)

Remember Oral Roberts?

Well, Max Abmas is still with the Golden Eagles and they do have experience from winning the Summit League tournament as a No. 4 seed from last season.

Oral Roberts pushed South Dakota State to overtime last week and it has one of the most dynamic guards in the country.

The Golden Eagles might be able to go on a run and they could earn a few futures bets from casual fans based on their success last season.

America East

Tournament Dates: March 6, 9 & 12 (Final: March 12, 11 a.m. ET, ESPN2)

My Pick: Vermont (-600)

The America East tournament is Vermont's to lose.

The Catamounts went 17-1 in America East regular-season play and they are one of the best mid-major teams out there.

Vermont can't be bet on its own, so you should try to parlay it with one of the other conference tournament favorites to get a better price.

Darkhorse Pick: UMBC (+1000)

UMBC is the No. 2 seed in the America East tournament and probably the biggest threat to Vermont in a potential title game.

UMBC ranks 13th in free-throw percentage and 15th in two-point offense on KenPom.

The Retrievers need to play a perfect game to beat Vermont, and it seems unlikely they will beat the Catamounts, but if you need a dark horse pick in the America East, they are the selection.

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