The Missouri Valley Conference tournament is probably the chalk when it comes to mid-major tourneys. It typically has some solid teams and a great venue for television in St. Louis.
This year ‘Arch Madness’ starts on Thursday, March 2 and it features two teams at the top — Wichita State and Illinois State — who are both considered bubble teams for the NCAA tournament. If both make the MVC final, and the odds suggest they will, they will probably both earn a ticket to the Dance.
With that in mind, here are some betting notes to help you handicap this one before we get into the power conferences next week:
Odds to win it:
Wichita State -350
Illinois State +400
Wichita State and Illinois State each had only one loss in conference play and those came against each other. Wichita State owns the No. 2 scoring margin in the country of +19.5 points and the Shockers have won 12 straight games by at least 15.
If you believe defense wins championships, Illinois State is worth a shot. The Redbirds earned the No. 1 seed in the tourney with a better RPI and they rank fourth in the country in field-goal defense.
Best ATS teams last 4 years in MVC tourney:
Northern Iowa 5-2-1 ATS
Southern Illinois 4-1-1 ATS
Missouri State 4-2-1 ATS
Wichita State is 7-3 during the last four years of the MVC tourney but just 4-6 against the spread. Beware of big numbers here on a deep team that likes to use its bench. If they get a big lead, it’s possible we could see some lesser teams sneak through the back door with a cover in the quarters or semis.
The Salukis are 2-4 straight up in the tournament the last four years but they’re 4-1-1 against the spread. They face Loyola in the quarterfinals, a team they’ve beaten twice as underdogs this season.
Top UNDER teams:
Southern Illinois (0-6 OVER/UNDER last four years in the tourney)
Missouri State (1-5 O/U last four years in the tourney)
Illinois State (11-18 O/U this season. Top UNDER team in the conference
Top OVER teams:
Missouri State (20-8 O/U this season, top OVER team in the conference)
Bradley (4-1 O/U top OVER team in the MVC tourney last four seasons)
Bradley — seven straight wins against the spread entering Arch Madness.
Wichita State — five straight wins against the spread entering Arch Madness.
Teams coming off a bye in the quarterfinals are 8-0 straight up over the last four seasons in the MVC tournament but only 4-3-1 against the spread. You may want to consider adding these juicy faves on a parlay if the odds aren’t too crazy. This year they will most likely be looking at big spreads vs. Wichita State and Illinois State respectively.
Illinois State 4-1. Great odds for a team that plays tough defense and has earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament.