College Basketball Conference Tournament Sleepers: Four Underrated Teams

Stanley Umude #0 of the Arkansas Razorbacks walks down the court during a game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Bud Walton Arena on February 19, 2022 in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The Razorbacks defeated the Tigers 58-48.
Image Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

It’s that time of year! You know, that time when there’s more college basketball in a day than a human can actually consume (does anyone have a spare TV?). With the action really starting to heat up Tuesday, let’s focus on four conference tournament sleepers with juicy betting odds.

As noted last week, conference tournaments can present tremendous value opportunities for astute bettors. We’ll look to embrace those opportunities by highlighting some underrated teams that have a solid chance to take down their conference championship, secure an NCAA Tournament bid, create headaches for the Selection Committee, and — most importantly — put some money in our pockets.

Odds via PointsBet USA and Caesars Sportsbook, and updated as of 11:30 a.m. ET on March 7. All statistics and metrics include games completed through March 6.

Four Conference Tournament Sleepers To Watch

At, we always preach shopping around for the best numbers at different sportsbooks. That’s especially important when it comes to conference tournament futures. There are some wild differences in prices from sportsbook to sportsbook, so we’ll do some homework for you and reveal where to find the best odds for each conference tournament sleeper.

North Carolina Tar Heels

Armando Bacot #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels against the Elizabeth City State Vikings during their game at the Dean E. Smith Center on November 05, 2021 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Tar Heels won 83-55.
Image Credit: Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Odds to win ACC Tournament: +750
Where to bet: PointsBet USA

It’s Duke and everyone else in this year’s ACC tournament. The Blue Devils are overwhelming favorites, sitting at -125 at PointsBet USA and as high as -130 elsewhere. North Carolina is the clear-cut second choice in the conference tournament futures odds market.

Is Duke going to be a tough out in the ACC tournament? Of course. But the betting value lies elsewhere.

North Carolina is brimming with confidence heading into this event, fresh off Saturday’s stunning 13-point victory at Duke as an 11-point underdog. The Tar Heels have been hot and cold all season, but it appears they’re figuring things out at the right time. UNC has rattled off five straight victories (4-1 ATS) and is 11-2 since Jan. 24.

Take a look at the ACC Tournament bracket. North Carolina is the No. 3 seed and has a plausible path to the finals. Its most likely opponents are Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Notre Dame. The No. 2-seed Fighting Irish are the scariest of that bunch, and they did score a five-point victory over North Carolina this season. But that was way back in early January.

Current form matters come tournament time, and Saturday’s come-from-behind victory over Duke could be a sign that the Tar Heels have turned the corner. Also, because UNC sits on the opposite side of the Blue Devils, the Tar Heels wouldn’t have to face their hated rivals until the title game. Should a UNC-Duke final materialize, there will be a great hedge opportunity.

If you like the Tar Heels to win the ACC Tournament, head over to PointsBet USA, where the Tar Heels are +750. For comparison, UNC is listed at +650 at both BetMGM and FanDuel,+600 at DraftKings, and as low as +550 at Caesars Sportsbook. Do your bankroll a favor and snag the best odds at PointsBet.

Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas Razorbacks guard JD Notae dribbles the ball upcourt against the Tennessee Volunteers during an SEC basketball game
Image Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Odds to win SEC Tournament: +800
Where to bet: Caesars Sportsbook

Arkansas was a trendy Final Four pick in March 2021. The Razorbacks could easily find themselves in that same conversation this year as well.

The Kenpom ratings have Arkansas positioned alongside the SEC’s elite squads. (Kentucky, Auburn, Tennessee, LSU, and Arkansas are all ranked in the top 20.) The latter pair of that group offers interesting value to win the SEC tournament.

As the No. 4 seed, Arkansas has a double-bye in the conference tourney, putting it two wins away from the final. Despite that, the Razorbacks have much longer odds than the other top three seeds. At Caesars, Kentucky is +190, Auburn +260, and Tennessee +350.

Arkansas is capable of making a run. After all, the Razorbacks have beaten Auburn, Kentucky, Tennessee, and LSU over the last month. Similar to the write-up of North Carolina, it appears the Hogs are peaking at the right time.

As conference tournament sleepers go, you could do a lot worse than Arkansas. And Caesars Sportsbook offers the best odds at +800. That’s a better price than BetMGM and DraftKings, which both have Arkansas at +750.

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Marquette Golden Eagles

 Justin Lewis #10 of the Marquette Golden Eagles is seen during the game against the Butler Bulldogs at Hinkle Fieldhouse on February 12, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Image Credit: Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Odds to win Big East Tournament: +850
Where to bet: PointsBet USA

Marquette is a solid team with legitimate ambitions to win the Big East tournament. It’s difficult to argue that the Golden Eagles are in the same caliber as the Big East’s top-four seeds, but there are several things trending in their favor this week. Which is why Marquette finds itself among our conference tournament sleepers.

First off, take a look at the Big East tournament bracket. The Golden Eagles have a winnable quarterfinal game Wednesday against Creighton, a team that recently lost one of its best players (Ryan Nembhard) for the season. Win that contest, and Marquette likely will have a date with Providence, a squad KenPom has dubbed the luckiest team in college basketball. Lest we forget that Marquette pounded Providence 88-56 on Jan. 4. (The Friars have had an excellent season, but don’t let that No.1 seed fool you — they’re very beatable.)

Does Marquette run hot and cold like a temperamental toddler? Absolutely! However, the Golden Eagles have a walkable path to the Big East finals. And if they get there, they’ll have a puncher’s chance to beat any opponent that stands in front of them.

In terms of odds on Marquette to cut down the nets in the Big East, PointsBet significantly beats the rest of the market in offering +850. No other book has the Golden Eagles higher than +700.

Michigan State Spartans

Michigan State Spartans forward Marcus Bingham Jr. (30) listens to instruction from his head coach Tom Izzo during a college basketball game between the Michigan State Spartans and the Grand Valley State Lakers on November 4, 2021 at the Breslin Student Events Center in East Lansing, MI.
Image Credit: Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Odds to win Big Ten Tournament: +2,500
Where to bet: Caesars Sportsbook

At 25-to-1, this sleeper is much “deeper” than the others on this list. That statement sounds very strange, as we are talking about a name-brand team in Michigan State. However, anyone following college basketball knows the Spartans have been slumping over the last month. Actually, that’s probably an understatement.

Thanks to a 3-7 finish to the regular season, Michigan State — which was ranked in the Top 15 not long ago — has fallen to the No. 7 seed in this week’s Big Ten Tournament. Remember, though, that one of the Spartans few recent wins came on Feb. 26 against Purdue, which has been a top 10-ranked squad all season.

In other words, Michigan State has the chops to beat any team in the Big Ten tourney.

Checking the bracket, the Spartans’ opening draw against Maryland on Thursday doesn’t look overly imposing. After all, they swept the Terrapins this season, including a regular season-ending 77-67 victory Sunday. If Michigan State advances to the quarterfinals, it will face a Wisconsin team that lost its regular-season finale to last-place Nebraska — at home, no less.

Also, the Badgers’ best player, Johnny Davis, is questionable with an injury. That’s the same Johnny Davis who scored 25 points against the Spartans twice this season (one win, one loss).

If Michigan State can get past Maryland and Wisconsin, it would run up against … Purdue. So we know that’s a winnable contest.

Now, let’s be clear here: This is a “buy low” long-shot bet. Placing a wager on Michigan State is a medium-to-large-size leap of faith on Tom Izzo’s ability to turn things around. However, the Spartans certainly have the talent to make a deep run. They also have a reasonable path to the finals. And Caesars Sportsbook is offering us the best value +2,500 (others range from +1,600 to +2,000).

Here’s to hoping Sparty can figure things out at the right time!

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