Upcoming Match-ups

2020 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Opening Odds

Jake Mitchell

by Jake Mitchell in College Basketball

Mar 3, 2020 · 8:30 AM PST

KJ Williams dancing with teammates
Murray State's KJ Williams (23) does a celebration dance for his teammates Jalen Johnson (25) and Tevin Brown (10) after the team's win ina NCAA college basketball game for the championship of the Ohio Valley Conference men's tournament Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Evansville, Ind. (AP Photo/Daniel R. Patmore)
  • The OVC Tournament takes place from March 4th through 7th at the Ford Center in Evansville, Indiana
  • Belmont is a -145 favorite, but Murray State is a close +210 underdog. Can the Racers steal a conference title?
  • Read on for a deeper look at one of the more intriguing mid-major conference tournament.

The mid-major conference tournaments always have an extra kick to them, because even the teams at the very top of the seeding are playing for their NCAA Tournament livelihood.

In this year’s Ohio Valley Conference Tournament from March 4-7, those two squads will be Belmont and Murray State, but they’ll be navigating a field of teams with March Madness dreams of their own.

2020 Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Odds

School (seed) Odds
Belmont (1) -145
Murray State (2) +210
Austin Peay (3) +775
Tennessee State (5) +3000
Eastern Illinois (6) +4000
Eastern Kentucky (4) +4000
Jacksonville State (7) +6000
Morehead State (8) +6000

Odds taken March 3rd

OVC Tournament Bracket

2020 OVC Tournament Bracket

Belmont the Team to Beat

At -145, it is Belmont who holds the top spot in the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament odds, partially because they’re the hottest team in the field. They finished with a 24-7 record, but it was the ten straight victories to close the season that was truly impressive.

Since January 2nd, this team only has two losses. Both defeats come from two of the top three teams in these odds.

While the Bruins are still a long shot in the 2020 National Championship Odds, and not even offered currently at some sportsbooks, they’re definitely the squad to beat in this conference tournament.

Chalk In the Ohio Valley?

A look at the odds shows a distinct drop from the third team to the fourth team. Austin Peay’s +775 odds are starkly different than Tennessee State’s +3000 just below the Governors. The question is, can someone from outside the top three take the title?

The Racers and Bruins don’t even have to play until the semifinals. Just two victories stand between those two squads and a conference title. For Austin Peay, they’re off until the quarterfinals, in which they’ll play the winner of sixth-seed Eastern Illinois and seventh-seed Jacksonville State.

Smaller conference tournaments, simply because fewer games are played, leave far less room for chaos to occur. The top three favorites already make up 50% of the semifinals field, and if the Governors can hold down either of the lower seeds they’ll meet on Thursday, that percentage will move to 75%. Between Belmont, Murray State, and Austin Peay, it’s likely one of the top three is going to lock up a spot in the big dance later this month.

What’s the Best Bet?

As mentioned prior, Belmont is the favorite because of this group, they are unquestionably the hottest team coming into this tournament. Both Murray State and Austin Peay compiled solid records with 20-plus wins, but they lost a combined seven of their last 20 games to wrap up the regular season.

However, when it comes to value, it’s actually the Governors that offer the highest amount. They have +775 odds, the lowest of the top three, but they have the best player. Austin Peay’s Terry Taylor averages 21.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game, and he contributes at least a block, assist, and steal per game as well.

With the best player in the tournament, there is a clear path to victory for Peay. This field may not produce extreme March chaos, but this three-seed could absolutely catch one of the two squads above it.

SBD’s NCAA conference tournament coverage:

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