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Picking favorites & sleepers for 19 NCAA conference tournaments

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NCAA Basketball: Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Championship Bradley vs UNI Joe Puetz-USA TODAY Sports

March Madness is upon us! Four conference champions secured their berth over the weekend, and the rest will take care of business this week. 19 conference tournaments, including all of the power conferences will kick off this week. Bubble teams are praying favorites take home conference titles, but we all know upsets will happen.

Caesar’s Entertainment released odds for the remaining 19 conference tourneys, and we’ve taken those numbers a step further. SB Nation’s resident bracketologist Chris Dobbertean offers a look at his favorite for each tournament and then a sleeper that could provide some betting value.

ACC Tournament

Favorite: Tony Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers have long been known for their defense, but this season they have the offense to match. They’re the only team in the top three of both KenPom’s adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency rankings.

Sleeper: The Florida State Seminoles have the size to trouble every team in the ACC. Plus, they’ve lost just once in their last 13 games — to the North Carolina Tar Heels on February 23rd.

Virginia: 3/2
Duke 7/4
North Carolina: 3/1
Florida State: 12/1
Virginia Tech: 15/1
Louisville: 30/1
Syracuse: 40/1
Clemson: 50/1
NC State: 50/1
Miami (FL): 200/1
Notre Dame: 500/1
Pittsburgh: 500/1
Boston College: 500/1
Georgia Tech: 500/1

Big 12 Tournament

Favorite: The Kansas Jayhawks may be the third seed. They may also be banged up. But Kansas City’s Sprint Center is virtually their second home, under an hour’s drive from Allen Fieldhouse. So they’ll have the bulk of the crowd support.

Sleeper: The Baylor Bears have the talent to string together the trio of wins needed to cut down the nets, but they’ll have to shake off a recent three-game skid to make that happen.

Texas Tech: 3/2
Kansas State: 7/2
Kansas: 5/1
Iowa State: 6/1
Baylor: 8/1
Texas: 8/1
Oklahoma: 20/1
TCU: 20/1
Oklahoma State: 200/1
West Virginia: 200/1

MEAC Tournament

Favorite: The Norfolk State Spartans lost just twice in MEAC play this season and will be playing just a couple of miles from campus.

Sleeper: Last Thursday, the fourth-seeded Howard Bison defeated the Spartans in the own building. They’ve won four straight and lurk as a possible semifinal opponent.

Norfolk State: 3/2
North Carolina A&T: 3/1
North Carolina Central: 4/1
Bethune Cookman: 6/1
Howard: 6/1
Savannah State: 20/1
Morgan State: 25/1
Coppin State: 30/1
Delaware State: 100/1
MD Eastern Shore: 100/1

Big East Tournament

Favorite: With the Marquette Golden Eagles giving away the league title by dropping their last four contests, the 2018 Big East Tournament and NCAA Tournament champion Villanova Wildcats now fill this role by default.

Sleeper: With the league’s bottom eight teams relatively evenly matched, you are spoiled for choice here. But only the Seton Hall Pirates have a player as electric as Myles Powell on their roster. Both Marquette and Villanova got to experience his greatness first hand last week.

Villanova: 2/1
Marquette: 3/1
Creighton: 6/1
St. John’s: 6/1
Seton Hall: 8/1
Xavier: 10/1
Georgetown: 15/1
Butler: 20/1
Providence: 20/1
DePaul: 30/1

MAC Tournament

Favorite: Easy. It’s the Buffalo Bulls and it’s not close. Nate Oats’ squad is arguably better than the one that knocked off the Arizona Wildcats in last season’s NCAAs.

Sleeper: Of the two teams that defeated the Bulls in the MAC season, the Bowling Green Falcons are the only ones guaranteed to play in Cleveland on Thursday.

Buffalo: 1/2
Toledo: 7/2
Bowling Green: 10/1
Kent State: 15/1
Akron: 20/1
Ball State: 20/1
Central Michigan: 25/1
Eastern Michigan: 25/1
Miami (OH): 25/1
Northern Illinois: 30/1
Ohio: 75/1
Western Michigan: 300/1

Mountain West Tournament

Favorite: Even though the Nevada Wolf Pack slipped up in last season’s semifinals, they’re again the favorites to cut down the nets in Las Vegas. This senior-laden squad is an NCAA lock.

Sleeper: The team that knocked off the Wolf Pack last season, the San Diego State Aztecs, once again lurks as a possible semifinal opponent. Plus, the Aztecs and Wolf Pack split their season series.

Nevada: 5/8
Utah State: 2/1
Fresno State: 8/1
San Diego State: 15/1
UNLV: 15/1
Boise State: 25/1
Air Force: 100/1
Colorado State: 100/1
New Mexico: 100/1
San Jose State: 500/1

Pac 12 Tournament

Favorite: The Washington Huskies won the regular-season title by a whopping three games, and considering how mediocre the Pac-12 is this season, it’s amazing they didn’t get pulled into the mire.

Sleeper: The third-seeded Utah Utes provide decent value, particularly since they’ve defeated the second-seeded Arizona State Sun Devils once this season.

Washington: 5/2
Oregon: 4/1
Arizona State: 5/1
Colorado: 6/1
Oregon State: 6/1
Utah: 8/1
Arizona: 15/1
USC: 20/1
UCLA: 20/1
Stanford: 30/1
California: 100/1
Washington State: 100/1

SEC Tournament

Favorite: The Kentucky Wildcats are aiming for a fifth-consecutive SEC Tournament title and have lost just three times in this event since John Calipari took over in Lexington in 2009-10.

Sleeper: The Florida Gators need wins badly, and they could go on a revenge tour this week. If they get past the Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday, a Friday quarterfinal with an LSU Tigers squad they took to overtime twice would await, win that and Saturday might offer up a semifinal against a South Carolina Gamecocks squad that stole a win in Gainesville in January.

Tennessee: 7/4
Kentucky: 2/1
LSU: 9/2
Auburn: 6/1
Florida: 15/1
Mississippi State: 15/1
South Carolina: 25/1
Mississippi: 50/1
Alabama: 50/1
Arkansas: 50/1
Missouri: 200/1
Texas A&M: 200/1
Vanderbilt: 500/1
Georgia: 500/1

Big 10 Tournament

Favorite: Even though the Michigan State Spartans have been dealing with injuries throughout the Big Ten season, they still managed to win a share of the regular-season title without Joshua Langford and Nick Ward.

Sleeper: While the Penn State Nittany Lions finished the regular season at 14-17 and 7-13 in conference play, nine of their Big Ten losses came either in overtime or by fewer than seven points. If their luck changes in Chicago, they could match last season’s surprise semifinal run.

Michigan State: +175
Purdue: 3/1
Michigan: 5/1
Wisconsin: 8/1
Maryland: 10/1
Penn State: 25/1
Indiana: 30/1
Iowa: 50/1
Minnesota: 50/1
Nebraska: 75/1
Ohio State: 75/1
Illinois: 100/1
Northwestern: 200/1
Rutgers: 200/1

Big Sky Tournament

Favorite: The top-seeded Montana Grizzlies are aiming for their second consecutive Big Sky Tournament title and NCAA bid.

Sleeper: The fifth-seeded Portland State Vikings have been the Grizzlies’ kryptonite, sweeping the pair’s season series. They’re also a potential semifinal opponent.

Montana: +125
Northern Colorado: +175
Weber State: 6/1
Eastern Washington: 10/1
Montana State: 12/1
Portland State: 15/1
Sacramento State: 25/1
Southern Utah: 25/1
Idaho State: 50/1
Northern Arizona: 50/1
Idaho: 100/1

Atlantic 10 Tournament

Favorite: The VCU Rams and their suffocating defense are currently riding a 12-game win streak and are the Atlantic 10’s lone at-large possibility.

Sleeper: The Atlantic 10 Tournament is typically one of the more unpredictable of Championship week, so there are plenty of options. However, the Saint Louis Billikens, the No. 6 seed, have the talent to make a surprise run.

VCU: -130
Dayton: 4/1
Davidson: 9/2
Saint Bonaventure: 10/1
Saint Louis: 15/1
Rhode Island: 25/1
George Mason: 25/1
Duquesne: 50/1
Saint Joseph’s: 50/1
Richmond: 75/1
La Salle: 75/1
UMass: 100/1
Fordham: 200/1
George Washington: 200/1

Conference USA Tournament

Favorite: Even though the Old Dominion Monarchs lost their final two games after clinching the No. 1 seed in the Conference USA Tournament, they’re still slight favorites to take the title.

Sleeper: The Marshall Thundering Herd, 2018’s champion, will have to win one extra game to repeat, but Jon Elmore and C.J. Burks, two of last season’s heroes are perfectly capable of pushing the Herd past the finish line.

Old Dominion: 7/2
Southern Miss: 3/1
Western Kentucky: 4/1
UTSA: 5/1
UAB: 10/1
Louisiana Tech: 12/1
North Texas: 12/1
Marshall: 15/1
Florida Atlantic: 20/1
Florida International: 30/1
Middle Tennessee State: 75/1
Rice: 75/1

WAC Tournament

Favorite: While the Grand Canyon Antelopes were expected to seriously challenge the New Mexico State Aggies, the WAC’s dominant program is again favored to land the conference’s lone bid. The Aggies have won this event in six of the last seven seasons.

Sleeper: The UT Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros, a potential semifinal opponent for New Mexico State, played them close in both regular season meetings. Plus, the Vaqueros split their season series with their first round foe, the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners.

New Mexico State: -175
Grand Canyon: 3/1
Utah Valley: 3/1
Seattle: 15/1
UT Rio Grande Valley: 20/1
Cal State Bakersfield: 25/1
UMKC: 50/1
Chicago state: 200/1

Big West Tournament

Favorite: Russell Turner’s UC Irvine Anteaters have won 13 straight and lost just a single Big West all season. The Big West’s most dominant regular-season program of late is aiming for its first NCAA bid since 2015.

Sleeper: The Long Beach State 49ers, a potential semifinal foe for the Anteaters, are the only team to beat Irvine in conference play. Note that the Big West re-seeds its semifinals, however.

UC Irvine: -175
UC Santa Barbara: 4/1
Cal State Fullerton: 6/1
Hawaii: 8/1
Long Beach State: 12/1
Cal State Northridge: 15/1
UC Davis: 15/1
UC Riverside: 75/1

American Athletic Tournament

Favorite: The Houston Cougars have dominated the American this season to the tune of a 16-2 record. They’re a possible No. 2 seed in the final NCAA Tournament bracket.

Sleeper: While the Memphis Tigers are the obvious pick here since they’re playing at home, I’m going to go with the Wichita State Shockers instead. While the Shockers are in the midst of a down season, they’ve gone 9-2 in their last 11 games and are on what’s arguably the weaker side of the bracket.

Houston: +140
Cincinnati: 5/2
Central Florida: 4/1
Memphis: 6/1
Temple: 10/1
Wichita State: 25/1
South Florida: 50/1
Southern Methodist: 50/1
Tulsa: 60/1
Connecticut: 60/1
East Carolina: 200/1
Tulane: 200/1

SWAC Tournament

Favorite: While the Prairie View A&M Panthers won the SWAC title by three games, they split with conference’s power of late, the Texas Southern Tigers. Now coached by former LSU coach Johnny Jones, the Tigers won at Baylor, Oregon and Texas A&M in non-conference play.

Sleeper: The Southern Jaguars won in Texas Southern’s arena in Saturday’s regular-season finale — by 10 points. They’ll meet again in Houston in Tuesday’s quarterfinals.

Texas Southern: +125
Prairie View: 3/2
Grambling: 4/1
Jackson State: 8/1
Arkansas Pine Bluff: 20/1
Alabama State: 20/1
Southern: 30/1
Alcorn State: 60/1

Sun Belt Tournament

Favorite: Ron Hunter’s Georgia State Panthers won at Alabama in December and earned the No. 1 seed at the expense of the Georgia Southern Eagles and Texas-Arlington Mavericks.

Sleeper: The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, whose head coach Bob Marlin famously got into it with suspended LSU head coach Will Wade in the NIT last season, have had some success against the Sun Belt’s lead pack, going 3-3 against the four teams seeded ahead of them.

Georgia Southern: 5/2
Georgia State: 11/4
Texas State: 4/1
Texas Arlington: 5/1
Coastal Carolina: 8/1
Louisiana Lafayette: 10/1
Louisiana Monroe: 10/1
South Alabama: 25/1
Appalachian State: 30/1
Arkansas State: 50/1

Southland Tournament

Favorite: This is easy! The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks! Wait...what? You’re telling me they didn’t even qualify? Okay then. Let’s go with the Sam Houston State Bearkats who won the conference race by two full games, sweeping the second-place Abilene Christian Wildcats.

Sleeper: The Southeastern Louisiana Lions, the No. 3 seed, split with Abilene Christian, who would be their semifinal opponent should they survive the quarterfinals. While the Lions lost their regular-season finale, they had won 12 of their previous 14.

Abilene Christian: +125
Sam Houston State: +125
Lamar: 6/1
Southeastern Louisiana: 8/1
New Orleans: 15/1
Texas A&M CC: 25/1
Houston Baptist: 25/1
Central Arkansas: 50/1

Ivy League Tournament

Favorite: Even though the Harvard Crimson and Yale Bulldogs tied for the Ivy championship, Tommy Amaker’s squad swept the season series and is one of the most talented league squads ever.

Sleeper: While the Penn Quakers finished league play at 7-7 and needed to beat both Yale and Brown last weekend to even qualify, last season’s Ivy champ is extremely dangerous. They swept their way through the Big Five, defeating Villanova at the Palestra and Temple on the road.

Yale: -150
Harvard: 7/2
Penn: 7/2
Princeton: 10/1