By Donny Black
It’s Mid-Major conference tourney time!
The smaller conferences in Division 1 basketball will be starting conference tournaments this week as they battle for the coveted automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. Mid-major tournaments bring out the most passion because it is a true win or go home scenario for these players and universities. I will be previewing some of my favorite futures for March Madness and it starts with the Northeast Conference.
1. Merrimack: -120
2. Fairleigh Dickinson: +270
3. Saint Francis PA: +700
4. Sacred Heart: +1200
5. Wagner: +1200
6. Central Connecticut State: +3000
7. Saint Francis Brooklyn: +7500
8. LIU: +30000
Top seed, Merrimack remains ineligible for the NCAA tournament due to transitioning from D-II to D-I basketball. I believe this creates a great betting opportunity for a sleeper in this bracket.
WAGNER +1200 / FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON +270
In the NEC, the top seed (Merrimack) will have home court advantage. Both Wagner and Fairleigh Dickinson have won on Merrimack’s home floor this season, so they are clearly capable of winning on the road. FDU is 2-0 against Merrimack as well. There are only two teams with an overall winning record in the Northeast Conference — Fairleigh Dickinson and Wagner. Furthermore, Fairleigh Dickinson leads the conference in scoring with 78.3 points per game and Wagner leads the conference in defense, allowing just 61.5 points per game.
According to kenpom.com, Wagner is the best team out of the NEC and Fairleigh Dickinson has the best player in the entire conference in Demetre Roberts. My hope for this tournament is that this is the exact match up for the NEC Final. We’re getting +1200 and +270 on the best team, best player, best offense, and best defense in the NEC, going against a favorite who cannot make the NCAA Tournament due to ineligibility.
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