Ladies and gentlemen, the time has arrived. Yes, folks...this is March. These next three weeks of college basketball are the grand spectacle of the sport and it all starts (for us) Wednesday evening as the Big Ten and other major conference tournaments kick off to crown a champion and get prepared for the even bigger tournament to follow.
Simply watching basketball all day is fun, but I love having a little skin in the game too. This week I will give you some thoughts on the Big Ten Tournament, and then next week I will write up a comprehensive guide on how to bet March Madness to give you some tips and tricks so you come out of March with more money in your pocket.
Coming into the Big Ten Tournament, Wisconsin is the top overall seed, but they are not the favorite to win. Michigan State and Maryland both enter with the best odds at +350 according to DraftKings Sportsbook. That means a 100 dollar bet would win you $350. Then comes Wisconsin at +400, and Michigan at +600. For a full list of current odds, check out DraftKings today.
Who to bet among the favorites?
At +350, both Maryland and Michigan State seem to be the strongest candidate. However, they would likely square off in the semifinals. If I were betting one of the two teams that are the odds on favorites, I would bet Michigan State at the current price. If you’re getting the same odds for both teams, there really isn’t a lot of value in Maryland. Sure they could win it, but it’s hard to look past Tom Izzo this time of year, and if you aren’t getting any extra change to bet the Terps I would take Sparty.
Which bet has the most value?
Betting futures like the Big Ten Tournament is all about exploring a strategy. Do you want bet heavier on a favorite because you’re confident in them? Or do you want to take a long shot and risk a smaller amount to try and get rich quick if a team makes a run? Generally, the casual sports bettor falls somewhere in the middle, which in sports betting terms translates to value. Which team gets you the best bang for your buck.
Overall, there are a couple teams I see as valuable based on their odds. Iowa at +800 is a good option as they are on the opposite side of the favorites, and have a first round bye. That sets them up nicely in the short term. Additionally, they have the conference player of the year in Luka Garza which always helps your case to make a run at the title.
However, the team I like even more based on their odds is Illinois at +1400. To me, I think the Illini have over inflated odds. Iowa at +800 will have to play a game before taking on Illinois at +1400 if they win. To me, that seems a little backwards. Especially when you consider Illinois just knocked off the Hawkeyes to end the regular season. With the duo Ayo Dosoumu and Kofi Cockburn, I think Illinois has a chance to make a run at the title on the more favorable side of the bracket.
Teams to avoid?
Overall, I think you want to take a team on the top half of the bracket which is why I have eyed up Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. In the bottom half you have Michigan State and Maryland holding guard to teams like Ohio State, Purdue, and Penn State. I think the likelihood of someone getting out of that bottom half other than Michigan State or Maryland is very, very low.
Additionally, I don’t buy into any of those teams and haven’t all season. I’ve called Penn State the frauds of the conference for months now, and Ohio State is 0-3 on the season against the likes of Penn State, Maryland, and Michigan State.
Alright, alright let’s get down to brass tacks. Sure, its easy enough to give you odds and say this is where you coulddddd bet. However, as a sports bettor I take media predictions with a grain of salt. Sports betting is growing, so media outlets are giving out more ‘picks’ but a lot of them are not actually putting down their hard earned cash. I don’t like to do that, so here is where my money is going.
I am betting Illinois as my long shot to win the tournament at +1400, and hedging my bet with Michigan State on the opposite side. To me, I think a team like Illinois could get hot and they are on the more favorable side of the bracket.
On the bottom half, I don’t see anyone else coming out other than MSU or Maryland, so i’ll take my long shot, hedge it with my favorite and feel confident about cashing one of the two come Sunday afternoon.