Las Vegas Sun

November 20, 2019

Currently: 58° — Complete forecast

Conference tournament betting odds: Three futures to start March Madness


Steve Marcus

UNR forward Cody Martin (11) chases after a loose ball during a game against UNLV at the Thomas & Mack Center Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019. UNLV Runnin’ Rebels guard Trey Woodbury (22) is at right.

One of the most significant results on the final day of power-conference regular season college basketball last Saturday came in the last game.

Oregon defeated Washington 55-47 as a 6-point underdog to not only win a fourth straight and beat up on the Pac-12’s best, but also forge a favorable path in the conference tournament this week at T-Mobile Arena. The red-hot Ducks will only need to beat Washington State and Utah, two games where they’ll be decent-sized favorites, on Wednesday and Thursday to reach the Pac-12 semifinals.

If they had lost, the Ducks would have faced the much more arduous two-round road of Stanford and Arizona State. The positioning makes Oregon at 4-to-1 the first recommended future bet in Talking Points’ annual conference tournament futures pick.

As one of the younger teams in the Pac-12, there was always a knowledge that it might take the Ducks a while to reach their potential — and the curve was increased when they lost blue-chip 7-footer Bol Bol for the year. But they seem to have gotten there now, and should put forth a strong, focused effort with their only chance at a NCAA Tournament bid coming through winning the tournament.

Gamblers are better off wagering on Oregon, or whichever team they like, on the money line and rolling over the winnings in each game of the conference tournament, but not many actually commit to following that strategy. Future odds are the more popular option — the numbers for all remaining tournaments from the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook are available below — which is why the blog has scoured the prices to find three recommended bets.

Here are the other two.

UNR at 2-to-3 to win the Mountain West Conference Tournament

Don’t overthink the tournament playing down the street from the Pac-12 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

The Wolf Pack were far and away the best team in the Mountain West all season, even though they lost to Utah State 81-76 two weeks ago to share the regular-season conference title. Getting the tiebreaker to earn the No. 1 seed over Utah State in the tournament is a big bonus.

UNR is now guaranteed to be a double-digit favorite in each of its first two games. Utah State, on the other hand, must deal with a few potential land mines — none more dangerous than No. 3 seed Fresno State, which split with the Aggies in a pair of one-point games in the regular season.

Bettors tend to neglect teams at the top of the odds, even though they’re often priced at the fairest odds. That could happen here, as no Mountain West opponent has a one-two punch to compare with Caleb Martin and Jordan Caroline at their best.

Iowa State at 5-to-1 to win the Big 12 Conference Tournament

Because of the way the Big 12 regular-season race played out, three teams dominated the conversation — Texas Tech, Kansas State and Kansas. In reality, the Big 12 had four particularly strong teams.

Iowa State was the other, but a rough final month where it went 2-6 has concealed how well it played the rest of the year. That makes for an opportunity to buy low on the Cyclones and bet on them as the postseason gets under way.

No team in the Big 12 is more efficient offensively as the Cyclones have the shooters to wipe any opponent out of the gym. They’re also a positive-regression candidate after going an unlucky 1-3 in games decided by a single possession during the regular season.

Like Oregon and UNR, Iowa State got a favorable bracket draw with a game against banged-up Baylor first before a potential semifinal with Kansas State, a team the Cyclones outscored by 13 points in two combined matchups this season.

Counting on Iowa State to turn it around is a gamble, but that’s what this part of the year in sports books is all about. Welcome to March Madness.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy