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Tuley's Takes on strategy for conference tournaments

March 8, 2022 06:11 PM

We’re excited about so-called Championship Week here in the Tuley’s Take home office, but the truth is we’ve already enjoyed a lot of action with the smaller conferences this past week.

As I’ve written every year for a long time: the conference tournaments offer more and better betting opportunities than the actual NCAA Tournament.

We get hundreds of games in the two weeks leading up to the Big Dance, then just 32 games in next Thursday and Friday’s first round and just 16 on Saturday and Sunday. And only a handful more if you’re into the NIT and other smaller tournaments.

As I wrote last week in Point Spread Weekly as well as in “Tuley’s Takes Today” at, the most success I’ve had over the years in the conference tournaments has been fading teams that are locks for the NCAA Tournament when they’re playing “bubble teams” or teams whose only shot is to get the automatic bid by winning the postseason tournament. While everyone would like to win a conference tournament title, it’s not the No. 1 priority for the very top teams; they’re already looking ahead to the NCAA Tournament. If they survive and advance toward a conference title, that’s OK, but they’re not devastated if they lose as they know they have bigger fish to fry. Meanwhile, the underdogs in these games are highly motivated because there’s no tomorrow. Think back over the years to all the conference tournament upsets in which a lower-ranked team upset a team that was a lock for the NCAAs and TV talking heads said things like “Nobody saw that coming.” Well, there’s a good chance that I — and other bettors like me — did. And even if these teams don’t pull the upset to move on, they’re often good bets to keep the game close and cover the spread.

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