Champ Week is upon us, which means there should be plenty of bargains on the NCAA basketball odds boards. How about the Purdue Boilermakers in the Big Ten tourney?
Congratulations to the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles, the Yale Bulldogs, the Northern Iowa Panthers, and the Austin Peay Governors. They've already punched their tickets to this year's NCAA men's basketball Tournament. For everyone else still in the hunt, Champ Week continues apace. Winning your conference will get you into the Big Dance, no matter what your record may be, and as they say, anything can happen in the postseason. Unless you're the Louisville Cardinals or the SMU Mustangs, that is.
With that in mind, here are three teams who carry at least some betting value into Champ Week. They're not the favorites on the NCAA basketball odds boards, but their chances of winning should be better than what the market seems to think. Let's start in the Big Ten, shall we? All odds listed are at 5Dimes as we go to press. Enjoy the games, and may the sphere be with you.
Purdue Boilermakers (+425)
The Boilermakers (24-7 SU, 15-11 ATS) finished the regular season tied for third place in the Big Ten, and they're the third favorites on the futures market. But that might be selling the Boilers a bit short. According to Sports-Reference, Purdue (+20.3 SRS) is second in the conference in Simple Rating System, behind the Michigan State Spartans (+23.6 SRS) and ahead of the Indiana Hoosiers (+19.9 SRS). The Boilers are healthy, they're balanced, and they're 4-1 SU and 3-1-1 ATS in their last five games. A solid value for the No. 15 team on the AP poll.
California Golden Bears (+425)
The Arizona Wildcats (+190) are clearly the best team in the Pac-12 at the moment, but there are at least three other quality teams in the conference, and Cal (22-9 SU, 18-13 ATS) is our preferred NCAA basketball picks at these odds. The Bears (+16.6 SRS) are fourth in the Pac-12 according to Simple Rating System, not very far behind the Wildcats (+20.0 SRS), and they're 8-1 SU and ATS in their last nine games. Injuries? None to speak of. Chutzpah? Plenty: Cal ranks No. 12 in defensive efficiency on Ken Pomeroy's charts.
Texas A&M Aggies (+375)
What's an Aggie? A damn fine basketball player, that's what. Texas A&M (24-7 SU, 13-11-2 ATS) ended up tied with the mighty Kentucky Wildcats for first place in the SEC standings, but Kentucky is a +145 chalk to win the conference tourney. Not without reason; the 'Cats led the SEC at +20.1 on the Simple Rating System, with the Aggies in third at +18.6 SRS. That's still less than a bucket, though, and A&M is in a serious groove at 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS, including a 79-77 overtime win against Kentucky (–2 away) on February 20. All this, and good health, too.