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Oddsmakers Love/Hate Conf. Tourney Time

Oddsmakers don't like this time of year. At the same time, they love it. 

You could say their relationship with conference tourney time is a little like the one between Megyn Kelley and Donald Trump: They sure do make their company popular, but boy is it tough sometimes.  

Conference tourney time pales in comparison to March Madness in terms of difficulty for the sports books simply because the games are packed in like a Tokyo subway. The NCAA national title tournament has 67 games including the first four play-in games – spaced over three weeks – while conference tournament week (March 8-13) has around 170 games jammed into one week with games happening one day after the other. 

“It’s definitely right up there towards the top (in terms of toughest weeks of the season to set odds),” says Dave Mason, odds expert and point man with BetOnline. “So many games on such short notice. Also, so many of those small schools that are often trickier to handle.”

Hear that kids? That’s opportunity knocking. Pay attention to the smaller conferences as next week goes on and you can catch the books in some weak spots. 

“The smaller the conferences, the more challenging… you can get beat a little more on the smaller games, but that’s why limits are often lower on them,” says Mason. 

Speaking of conference tourney time advantages… 

Soft lines during conference tourney time are even more evident with totals. Jay Kornegay at Westgate Superbook is among the many oddsmakers over the years who have told me they hate conference totals more than anything when it comes to setting lines. 

This excellent article from Sports Insights zeroes in on the UNDER during conference tourney time and says UNDERs are profitable for over 30 units each in both semifinals and finals of conference tournaments.  

The Suns suck. Badly. And are worse on the road. 

In case you hadn’t noticed, the Phoenix Suns are throw-up-in-your-mouth awful. Worst bet in the NBA at 23-38 ATS (against the spread) kind of awful. But they are especially bad on the road and I’m surprised they aren’t regularly getting more points from oddsmakers. 

The Suns are an NBA-worst 7-22 against the spread on the road this season, which is a tidy 76.9 percent winning rate if you’ve been wisely fading them every road game. Phoenix has lost 11 games by 20 or more points and 10 of those have come on the road. 

The GOP race is officially over… sorta 

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair Plc. threw in the towel to the betting public on Republican nominee futures and paid out $130,000 in wagers on Donald Trump to win the nomination following Super Tuesday. 

“Since 1988, the candidate to clean up on Super Tuesday has always gone onto win their party’s nomination,” the bookmaker said in e-mailed statement on Wednesday.

Rising Heat

When Dwyane Wade ran into early foul trouble against the Bulls Tuesday night, recent acquisition Joe Johnson took the game over and lit it up for 24 points. Chicago has been playing awful defense lately but we could be seeing a window here where Miami has some value. 

The Heat shot 52-for-77 (67.5 percent) against Chicago, which was the best shooting since Utah equaled those numbers on Feb. 27, 2010. They followed it up with a win and cover over Phoenix on Thursday where they shot 48.2 percent from the field and 52.7 percent on 3-pointers.

The Bulls need Jimmy back 

Chicago has completely fallen apart, which is why they’re the second worst bet in the NBA this year at 23-37 ATS. The Bulls allowed 99.7 points on 41.6 percent shooting in their first 34 games and in 25 games they allowing 106 points per game and 46 percent shooting. 

Injuries are what’s killing them but Derek Rose is back in the lineup and Jimmy Butler is expected back soon. Could be some value here soon with the Bulls. 

I’ll spare you a bad duck pun, just know that Anaheim is on fire 

Anaheim is 23-4-2 since Christmas and it feels like hardly anyone is taking notice. The Ducks were -156 favorites against the Coyotes on Thursday, when they probably should’ve been north of -200, and they smoked them 5-1. 

It’s hard to think a team this hot still has value, but that’s hockey for you. The betting public doesn’t give a puck. (Sorry.) The Ducks moved from 25-1 since Christmas to 12-1 now to win the Stanley Cup, which I feel is still well worth a futures bet. 

McGregor brings in money for bettors and makes it too

This chart from SportsInteraction shows Connor McGregor has made the third-most money for MMA bettors since 2010 behind only Holly Holm and Chris Weidman. Only two others have garnered more action than the Irishman – GSP and Anderson Silva. 

McGregor is in the -500 range to beat Nate Diaz at UFC 196 this weekend.  

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