Tips and Games for Champions Week

Champions Week is upon us, dreams have been fulfilled and hopes dashed in an instant. The joy of victory and the pain of defeat affect those of us who have money in the arena and fighters. The smaller conferences provided some drama, but the power conferences are about to take center stage, and we’ll cover them here as well. Picking the conference winners while playing in the league is one of my favorite future bets. Conference tournaments, on the other hand, can be very difficult with their one-and-done nature, back-to-back games, and varying levels of desperation depending on where you are and where you are in your projected NCAA bracket. But once my brother said in disbelief while looking at the competition uniform “I hate every horse in this race, but would I bet on him?!”

Odds at Caesars Sportsbook


Favorite: Duke Blue Devils (+270)

Cuff: This conference is the biggest wild card of all the power conferences, illustrated by Duke (No. 4 seed), who has the longest shot at being the favorite of any conference. The story stinks of the ACC, but it’s a misguided and lazy analysis. There are quality teams at the top, although the backs are terrible and no one is distinguishing themselves. Lacking that dominance, I think there are five or six teams that could win this. Miami (+350) and Virginia (+350) are the co-champions of the regular season. UVA isn’t elite defensively and relies on making too many jump shots as it likes to win three games in three days. North Carolina (+700) needs to win this tournament in my opinion to make it to the big dance, but despite the desperation, I don’t think they have enough to do it.

Miami and Duke have the cash, but they’re on the same side of the bracket. Duke is playing its best basketball, but has to play Pitt in the quarterfinals. I think Miami has an easier path, so I’d put my money on the Hurricanes. That is, rA value game for some money is NC State (+1,200). They have NBA-caliber guards in DJ Burns who are huge and can make shots. They are on the weak side of the bracket and are a good long game at this price.

Off the Cuff Pick: NC State (+1200)

The Big Ten

Favorite: Purdue (+145)

Cuff Picks: Indiana (+600), Northwestern (+1,000)

I called Indiana the Jekyll and Hyde team, and it’s true. The inconsistency within the conference is striking and reflects the sheer mediocrity evident in the projected NCAA Tournament seeding lines and the plethora of bubble teams (Rutgers, Michigan, Wisconsin, Penn State). Purdue has been separated from the pack, but has lost four of its last eight games. Freshman guards Fletcher Loyer and Braden Smith are good, but I worry because they can get pressured and struggle to control the game. Despite the top seed, they are on the tougher side of the bracket, with some matches that could be tougher. Indiana (+600) is where I go. I like the way they go, Trace Jackson-Davis is a beast and Jalen Hood-Schifino, despite his inconsistency, is an NBA point guard and most teams in this league can’t say that.

I will also invest some money Northwest (+1000). They are the No. 2 seed that has been overlooked all year. Very good backcourt, top defensive turnover in the league and worth some money at this price.

Big 12

Favorite: Kansas (+250)

Off the Cuff Picks: Kansas (+250)

The Big 12 is the opposite of the Big Ten. There are elite teams everywhere, and eight of those ten teams could go to the NCAA Tournament with five possible top 4 seeds. The Jayhawks won the league right away, which was impressive. Despite the loss in their last outing at Texas, it’s hard for me to argue against Kansas with how they’ve played lately. They have won nine of their last 11 games and the Big 12 Tournament is away from home in Kansas City, Missouri. Priced at +250, I like the money, Texas (+350) is also a solid game, but I look at the odds and think TCU (+600) is also interesting. The Horned Frogs play with electric speed, can really defend and don’t rely on 3-point shooting to help in a multi-day tournament situation. However, Eddie Lampkin Jr. is out indefinitely for personal reasons, and it’s the hardest part of being disabled.

Big East

Favorite: UConn (+220)

Cuff Pick: Marquette (+350)

I think it will be a very interesting tournament in the most famous arena in the world. However, I think one of the top 3 favorites will make the cut. Favorite UConn (#4 seed), regular season champs Marquette (+350) and #3 seed Creighton (+250). Xavier (+500) is the #2 seed, but will be without their leading scorer and most important player, Zach Fremantle, for the remainder of the season. No matter how good Villanova (+1000) is, I don’t think they can win four games in four days. The top-seeded Golden Eagles are heavily favored against the Huskies, who will play either St. John’s (+4,000) or Providence (+1,800), who Butler (+15,000) lost to earlier this year. Creighton’s biggest challenge on the other side of the bracket will be a quarterfinal matchup with Villanova, who have been a bad matchup for them and beat the Bluejays by 12 points on Feb. 25. I think it’s Marquette or UConn and I lean heavily against Marquette adding their regular season title.

Pak 12

Favorite: UCLA (+135)

Cuff Pick: Arizona (+190)

UCLA and Arizona (+190) are clearly two of the best teams in the league, and it’s not even close. The Bruins are superior to the Wildcats and showed they controlled every aspect of the game en route to a nine-point victory in their last meeting. However, this game cost them dearly. Jaylen Clark, the nation’s leading guard and UCLA’s second-leading scorer, is out for the rest of the season after suffering an Achilles injury. The Bruins struggle to score at times, and losing their best defenseman would be a huge loss. Even if Clark is available, I wonder if the team will decide to rest him for the Big Dance. I’ll take Arizona now I think the price will drop and if Clarke is ruled out they could become favourites.


Favorite: Alabama (+150)

Cuff: Alabama has been the best and most consistent team in the SEC until the last three weeks. They fought hard in the first halves and fought back to win three of their last four games. Before this form, I’d say I’d bet on Bama. But during Crimson Tide is still a play, let’s take a look at a few more. Tennessee (+400) is overpowered offensively and losing their best and most creative quarterback, Zakai Ziegler, puts them out of contention. Missouri (+2,500) is the #4 seed, but they’re not too inconsistent from home, as are Arkansas (+1,500) and Auburn (+1,600). Texas A&M (+550) is the #2 seed. The Aggies beat Bama and could be good value.

It may be fool’s gold, but I think so Kentucky (+350) Cason Wallace will get some money if he’s healthy. He missed his last game in a win at Arkansas. Wallace is the only reliable specialist on their roster, so if he’s playing, I’m in.

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