March Madness Odds: 2011 Conference Tournament Picks

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We’re at the very last week before Selection Sunday, and here at Cappers Info, we’re taking some time out to view the six big conference tournaments, what you should watch for, and projecting the winners of each, as we head on the road to March Madness betting action!

ACC Tournament Preview: March 10-13
Location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, NC

Favorite: Duke Blue Devils
NCAA Tournament Locks: Duke Blue Devils, North Carolina Tar Heels, Florida State Seminoles
Work To Do: Clemson Tigers, Boston College Eagles, Virginia Tech Hokies

The bottom line here in the ACC Tournament is all about how long you can survive. Clemson and Boston College are likely to be playing a March Madness elimination game on Friday. The winner is probably going to be in the field without any problems, but the loser is going to be sweating. Virginia Tech probably just needs to take care of Georgia Tech on Thursday to get into the field, but beating Florida State would really be smart and would seal the deal. The Noles are hoping to get Chris Singleton back in the lineup by then. North Carolina might be the top seed in this tournament, but we aren’t going to be counting out the Dookies. Don’t be surprised if this ultimately comes down to Duke and Carolina for the ACC title, and potentially for a No. 1 seed in the dance as well. Coach K isn’t losing to the same team twice in a matter of just a week. NCAA Basketball Free Pick: Duke Blue Devils (-140 @ Oddsmaker Sportsbook)

Big 10 Tournament Preview: March 10-13
Location: Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN

Favorite: Ohio State Buckeyes
NCAA Tournament Locks: Ohio State Buckeyes, Purdue Boilermakers, Wisconsin Badgers
Work To Do: Michigan Wolverines, Illinois Fighting Illini, Penn State Nittany Lions, Michigan State Spartans

Everyone thinks that Ohio State is just going to roll right into the finale of this tournament and walk away with yet another Big Ten title, but we’re really not all that sure that that is the case. The winner of that Michigan/Illinois 4/5 battle is going to be giving OSU a tough time and could take the Buckeyes out just two games into the tournament. Keep in mind that either the Wolverines or Illini will probably be in the field for sure with that win on Friday against the other, but there is a chance that the other could backdoor its way in. There’s probably no such luck for Michigan State and Penn State. The Spartans, at bare minimum, need a win over Iowa and a competitive game against Purdue, while Penn State needs to beat Indiana and Wisconsin to even think about having a chance. We love the chances of the Boilers in this one though, as they are playing close to home and have a lot to prove. They’ve beaten down Wisconsin this year at home (and granted, also lost on the road), and have owned Michigan State in two games. If the Buckeyes are out of the picture before that point, we tend to believe that Purdue is the team that will pick up the pieces. NCAA Basketball Free Pick: Purdue Boilermakers (+285 @ Oddsmaker Sportsbook)

Big 12 Tournament Preview: March 10-13
Location: Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO

Favorite: Kansas Jayhawks
NCAA Tournament Locks: Kansas Jayhawks, Texas Longhorns, Texas A&M Aggies, Kansas State Wildcats, Missouri Tigers
Work To Do: Colorado Buffaloes, Baylor Bears, Nebraska Cornhuskers

If you want to talk about a perfect setup for a tournament, this is it! The Big XII will have its three bubble teams playing against three teams that really have already locked down their bids to the dance. There is really nowhere to go but up for many of them as well, as losses to bubble teams aren’t going to hurt. Nebraska has played Kansas tough in the past, and that could make for a very, very interesting second round duel on Thursday. However, the far more interesting battle to us is the one between Texas the potentially Baylor. This will be the third go around for these two this year, and it’ll be the second chance for the Bears to try to take down the Horns and earn a signature win for the road to the NCAA Tournament. The forgotten team? What about Texas A&M? It’s going to get a relatively easy draw in Round 2, and it should love a prospective game in the semifinals against either Texas or a very weary Baylor team that would have just won its game of the year. These are great, great odds on a fantastic team. NCAA Basketball Free Pick: Texas A&M Aggies (+900 @ Oddsmaker Sportsbook)

Big East Tournament Preview: March 8-12
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

Favorite: Pitt Panthers
NCAA Tournament Locks: Pitt Panthers, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Louisville Cardinals, Syracuse Orange, St. John’s Red Storm, West Virginia Mountaineers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Georgetown Hoyas, Connecticut Huskies, Villanova Wildcats
Work To Do: Marquette Golden Eagles

About the only real question left in the minds of the Selection Committee is whether Marquette will make for the 11th team in the NCAA Tournament out of the Big East. It’s likely that the Golden Eagles will get in with a win over Providence on Tuesday, and a win over WVU on Wednesday certainly wouldn’t hurt any. There are just so many teams in this field that are not playing great ball right now. Notre Dame has some solid odds because it will probably end up drawing a tired team that really isn’t all that great in Cincy or Villanova, while Pittsburgh should get a free pass to the semis after facing Georgetown or UConn, both of which are struggling as well. The interesting battle is the one between St. John’s and Syracuse is that’s how the seeds play out in the quarterfinals. The ‘Cuse are one of the hotter teams in this league, while obviously, the Johnnies have figured out how to beat anybody and everybody in the Big East here at MSG. It wouldn’t surprise us if the winner of that game ended up taking down all of the marbles in this tournament. We’d buy into taking the Redbirds at +550, but instead, we’ll take our chances on the ‘Cuse in a game a heck of a lot closer to their backyard. NCAA Basketball Free Pick: Syracuse Orange (+425 @ Oddsmaker Sportsbook)

Pac-10 Tournament Preview: March 9-12
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

Favorite: Arizona Wildcats
NCAA Tournament Locks: Arizona Wildcats, UCLA Bruins
Work To Do: Washington Huskies, USC Trojans, Washington State Cougars

If there’s a major conference tournament this year where someone is going to come out of absolutely nowhere to win the whole enchilada, this is it. Arizona is a great team, but it has shown its flaws, and it really doesn’t need to win this tournament to look great to the Selection Committee. UCLA doesn’t need any more wins, and we’re not all that sure that the team really has the desire to last that long when the team is that thin. Three games in three days would be very hard on this team. USC is the team that really needs wins the most, as getting into the semifinals of the Pac-10 Tournament might be enough to get into the field, while getting into the finale would certainly do the job. Washington State is in a very similar boat, but it’s problem is that it is playing a Washington team that really needs at least one more win just to be sure as well. U-Dub figured out how to underachieved most of last season and then all of a sudden turn it on in the Pac-10 Tournament, and we think that that is what is going to happen again this year. NCAA Basketball Free Pick: Washington Huskies (+270 @ Oddsmaker Sportsbook)

SEC Tournament Preview: March 10-13
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA

Favorite: Kentucky Wildcats
NCAA Tournament Locks: Florida Gators, Kentucky Wildcats, Tennessee Volunteers, Vanderbilt Commodores
Work To Do: Georgia Bulldogs, Alabama Crimson Tide

This is a mighty interesting tournament because there are two teams that are head and shoulders above the rest of the pack in this conference, but neither one we really feel is capable of winning the whole thing due to a lack of depth. We certainly don’t buy Kentucky doing it, as this is one of the most inconsistent teams in America. That leaves us first, a slew of bubble teams. Alabama and Georgia are the two that are legitimately on the bubble, and there are several others from the West that think they can get themselves back into the bubble discussions by winning some games. Tennessee is a scary team, as we know that it has the talent to get through this entire tournament. Vandy has a slightly better draw. However, the team that we are going to go with is the Tide. You might want to place some hedge bets on Vandy and Tennessee, but we really feel significantly more comfortable backing a team that doesn’t have to play on Thursday in order to win this tournament. Rotnei Clarke and company get the job done with a stifling defense that will wear down a ton of the best teams in this conference one right after the other. NCAA Basketball Free Pick: Alabama Crimson Tide (+1200 @ Oddsmaker Sportsbook)

Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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