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Big Dogs Paying off at Conf. Tourney Time

If you like big dogs, you're going to like these numbers. 

According to our Odds Shark database, underdogs of 15 or more points are covering the spread at a nearly 60 percent clip (54-37-4 against the spread) in March conference hoops tournaments going back to 2005. Those are some profitable numbers if you were to have wisely backed every one of those pups. 

Our man working the database also found that underdogs of 20 or more points are 15-4-1 against the spread (ATS) since 2001, which is a winning rate of 78.9 percent. 

The trouble with those numbers is that these spots don’t poke their heads up for air very often. There have been only three 15-plus point spreads so far this conference season (where dogs continue to look profitable at 2-1 against the spread).

If we go a bit lower though, we’ll find that underdogs are also 24-10-1 ATS this season in games that feature a spread of eight points or more. There are seven games on tap for Wednesday’s tournament action that fall into this category. 

I don't think you always want to follow a trend like this blindly but it does point to the notion that big underdogs may have some added value this time of year. And it makes sense.

With an automatic bid up for grabs in every conference, long shots are given an opening to steal a ticket to the Dance – tiny though the window may be.  

What often happens is the underdogs give the heavier faves their best game, which is enough to cover a big number on its own especially on neutral court. But the favorites may also execute a more conservative game plan or strategy knowing they could have a potentially grueling conference tournament run ahead of them, followed by the NCAA tournament. 

Whatever logic you want to apply to the numbers, Wednesday could provide our first 15-plus point dog of major conference championship week. Rutgers opened as a 13-point underdog against Nebraska in the first round of the Big Ten tournament (7 p.m. ET) and bettors quickly moved the number to 15 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. 

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