March is only two days away, and with that comes the first set of brackets we get our hands on in the form of conference tournament brackets. Tonight the ASUN conference tournament will begin with two first-round games, and we’ll preview the tournament while going over our favorite outright winner bets.
The ASUN regular season ended on Friday night, with the Liberty Flames getting to cut down the nets as co-regular season champions. The Flames will enter the tournament listed as (-230) favorites to win, which is unsurprising since they went 15-3 in conference games.
Even though craziness ensues when March arrives, the Flames will be tough to beat, as they are one of the most well-rounded teams in the country. Liberty will enter the tournament ranked 14th in average points allowed per game and 12th in effective field goal percentage. Their offensive strength is three-point shooting, as they rank 12th in three-point attempts per game and 11th in makes per game, with leading scorer Darius McGhee averaging 11.5 attempts over the past ten games.
One of the three ASUN teams to hand the Flames a loss this season was the Kennesaw State Owls, and they currently have the second-best odds to win the tournament at (+300). The Owls also finished conference play with a 15-3 record and as co-regular season champs; however, they have the number one seed in the bracket since they have the tiebreaker over the Flames.
After the Owls, the next best odds to win belong to Eastern Kentucky at (+1600), so the oddsmakers clearly see a big gap between the top two teams and the rest of the conference. The Colonels finished the season with a 12-6 conference record but lost three of their last five games heading into the tournament.
Arguably one of the hottest teams in the conference heading into this week is the Lipscomb Bisons, whose odds are listed at (+2500). The Bisons finished fifth in the ASUN but won six of their last eight games and averaged 80.2 points per game.
Kennesaw State (+300): As good as Liberty has been this season, the value to bet on them to win the tournament is just not there. The Owls provide at least some value, plus they’ve shown they have what it takes to beat Liberty. One of the biggest reasons to back the Owls is leading scorer Chris Youngblood, averaging 16.8 PPG over the last ten games while shooting 47.3%.
Youngblood helped the Owls score the second most points that Liberty allowed in a game all season when the two teams met and is a big reason why the Owls rank 30th in three-point percentage this season. Defensively their ability to create turnovers helped them win close games all season, as they rank 67th in turnovers forced per game.
Stetson (+1700): The Hatters have the fourth-best odds to win the tournament and have all the right pieces to make a run in a tournament like this. Stetson will enter the week ranked 30th in effective field goal percentage, 9th in three-point percentage, and with the 37th-best offensive efficiency rating in the country, according to KenPom.
Most games they play in tend to be shootouts, but they won six of their last eight games, and if they get hot offensively, they are a good team to be backing with at least a half-unit flyer on.
Queens (+10000): For bettors that are looking for an early cinderella during conference tournaments, the Queens Royals are worth a look. Last year's ASUN conference champs were the Bellarmine Knights, who were ineligible for the NCAA tournament, and the Royals are in the same position this season.
With nothing to lose and an offense that averages the 47th most points in the country, they could be a dangerous team to match up with. They’re not the type of play I’m willing to make, but for thrill chasers and long-shot hunters, this could be a good team to consider.