Missouri Valley Conference Tournament Betting Preview

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The Missouri Valley Conference tips off its tournament on Thursday and it will be the first of the more prominent mid-major conferences to enjoy the national audience for its championship encounter, scheduled for Sunday. Three teams seem head and shoulders above the rest for the 20th edition of "Arch Madness" in St. Louis and they are Northern Iowa, Wichita State and Illinois State. Get the key betting info you need for today's games as well as the rest of the conference tourney action on the GAME MATCHUPS pages of Sportsbook.com. Now, here's a closer look at the MVC action.

The Favorites

Northern Iowa (25-4) is the regular season champion and has been one of the better wagers in college basketball all season at 18-10 ATS. The Panthers have been hanging around the bottom portions of the Top 25 since January and are destined to be in the Big Dance, leaving those to wonder about mindset and the possibility of an upset. Northern Iowa is the defending tourney champ and seeks its third title since 2004.

Historically, second-seeded Wichita State (23-8, 11-13 ATS) has not played well in this event, carrying a 21-28 record. The Shockers are at least statistically as good if not better than Northern Iowa. Wichita State is tops in The Valley in scoring margin (+8.7), rebounding margin (+4.8), assists (14.6) and steals (7.2). A concern about the Shockers is the 1-6 ATS record since Feb. 3 and 6-8 SU & 5-8 ATS record away from Wichita.

Illinois State (21-9, 12-14-1 ATS) has the third best record all-time at 34-24 in the tournament, having been to the championship game three straight times. The Redbirds have won six of their last seven games, losing only at Northern Iowa in last outing. In order to return to the championship, Illinois State will have to continue to play superior defense and receive big contributions from center Dinma Odiakosa and guard Osiris Eldridge.

The Long Shots

Fourth seeded Creighton (16-14, 12-15 ATS) has won this event a record 10 times, but doesn't look they have what it takes this season, particularly with 3-12 SU road record. The Blue Jays will take on Bradley (15-14, 13-15 ATS) in quarterfinal matchup that is already determined and the Braves are in double revenge and are 9-5 SU and ATS with three or more days rest.

Drake, Southern Illinois, Missouri State (19-11, 14-15-1 ATS) and Evansville will play the first day in St. Louis. Of this group, the Bears have the best shot of making the semifinals or beyond. Missouri State has made the finals four times since 2001, finishing second each time. They are the top scoring team in the league at 71.9 points per game and convert on 36.9 percent of three-point shots.

The Numbers

The Missouri Valley Conference has seen some significant trends develop by round. In the Opening Round games, UNDERDOGS are 11-11 SU and profitable 14-8 ATS (63.6%) since 1998. In the Quarterfinals, FAVORITES turn the tables, 14-6 ATS (70%) over the last five seasons.

Large FAVORITES or those laying seven-points or more have been very successful in the MVC tourney of late, 16-0 SU & 10-6 ATS (62.5%) since 2002.

Since the MVC Tournament games started having totals on every contest ('05), the UNDER the total has dominated at a 30-15 (66.7%) rate.

The Outcome

In the top half of the bracket, Northern Iowa faces Bradley in the semi-finals, who pull the minor upset of Creighton. The Braves have split two games with the Panthers, covering each time and are nipped in the rubber game. Missouri State shocks Wichita State in the quarters and falls to Illinois State who limits their offense, setting up a 1 vs. 3 finale.

The championship game is on CBS Sunday afternoon and will not a thrill a minute spectacular, with the projected total in the low 120's. Illinois State will provide strong competition and play even or close most of the way, until Northern Iowa's veteran experience takes over in the last five minutes and closes the deal, giving them two straight Arch Madness crowns.

With the $13 Million Perfect Bracket which includes a $10K Guaranteed prize pool, the $10K Sweet 16 Perfect Bracket, Daily Money Back Specials and Reduced Juice (-105) Fridays; Sportsbook.com gives the bettor the most ways to score a profit during March Madness.


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