- Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Merrimack: Fairleigh Dickinson +3.5 (-106) at FanDuel
- Abilene Christian vs. California Baptist: California Baptist -1 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
- Texas-Rio Grande Valley vs. Tarleton State: Texas-Rio Grande Valley +7 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
Is there something about the Western Athletic Conference that has bettors confused? The WAC is home to some of the most profitable college basketball picks in Division I – and some of the least profitable, too. That’s why the sharps keep pounding mid-majors like this for value.
As it turns out, the free OddsTrader BetStation app has identified two WAC teams that look especially tasty on Tuesday’s NCAAB odds. But neither of the two is the tastiest pick. For that, we have to leave the mid-majors and head down, all the way down, to the lowest of the low majors: the Northeast Conference.
Fairleigh Dickinson Knights vs. Merrimack Warriors
Tuesday, March 7, 2023 – 07:00 PM EST at Hammel Court
We have two very evenly matched teams in the NEC Tournament Final, but the Warriors (15-16 SU, 14-15 ATS) are 3.5-point favorites at FanDuel, while the computers say the Knights (17-14 SU, 11-18 ATS) will win 68-67.
How Bad Is the Northeast Conference?
It’s the worst conference in Division I men’s basketball, according to the Simple Rating System numbers at Sports Reference. The NEC was founded in 1981 and currently consists of nine very small New England schools, most of them private Catholic institutions.
Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts is one of those institutions. And they are indeed the best basketball team in the NEC, winning the regular-season title at 12-4 while checking in at No. 313 overall (No. 361 offense, No. 101 defense) on Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency charts.
Non-sectarian Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey finished tied for second in the NEC standings at 10-6, and they are second to Merrimack on the Pomeroy charts – but just a fraction behind at No. 315 overall (No. 157 offense, No. 361 defense). They’re separated by less than a tenth of a point per game according to Adjusted Efficiency Margin.
The trick here is that Tuesday’s final isn’t being played on neutral ground; Hammel Court is also the home of the Warriors. But Fairleigh Dickinson beat Merrimack here 78-71 on January 28 as 2.5-point road dogs, and they beat them 71-63 as 2-point home faves back on December 29. Why stop now?
NCAAB Pick: Fairleigh Dickinson +3.5 (-106) at FanDuel
Abilene Christian Wildcats vs. California Baptist Lancers
Tuesday, March 7, 2023 – 03:00 PM EST at Michelob ULTRA Arena
The first round of the WAC Tournament is this Tuesday in Las Vegas, and this is the first game of the tournament, with No. 8 Cal Baptist (17-15 SU, 12-16-1 ATS) projected to beat No. 9 Abilene Christian (15-16 SU, 8-16-1 ATS) 77-72 despite being favored by just one point at WynnBet.
Are These Teams Close?
Not as close as their seeding would suggest. The Lancers only finished a game ahead of the Wildcats in the WAC standings at 8-10, but they’re No. 159 overall (No. 181 offense, No. 143 defense) on the Pomeroy charts; the ‘Cats trail by 2.14 points per 100 possessions at No. 187 overall (No. 140 offense, No. 237 defense).
Chances are they’ll get in about two-thirds as many possessions as that, so Cal Baptist obviously have at least a shred of betting value, but the computers really like them in this matchup – and that’s despite losing 87-71 to the Wildcats back on February 4 as 5.5-point home faves.
The AI isn’t as crazy as it looks. Abilene Christian sank 11 of their 20 trey attempts (55.0%) that day, while the Lancers only shot 6-for-25 (24.0%). Computers and quants alike love regression to the mean.
NCAAB Pick: California Baptist -1 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
Texas-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros vs. Tarleton State Texans
Tuesday, March 7, 2023 – 09:00 PM EST at Michelob ULTRA Arena
The third game on our NCAAB picks is also the third game of the WAC Tournament, with No. 10 UTRGV (16-16 SU, 13-14 ATS) projected to lose 75-71 to No. 6 Tarleton (17-15 SU, 13-14 ATS). That makes the Vaqueros worth betting on as 7-point puppies at Caesars Sportsbook.
What Is a Vaquero?
A vaquero is a cowboy – the original of the form, first arriving in New Spain in the late 1600s. And these particular Vaqueros are No. 250 overall (No. 202 offense, No. 284 defense) on the Pomeroy charts.
That’s a fair bit behind the Texans at No. 160 overall (No. 199 offense, No. 127 defense), but there’s “only” about 7.5 points between the two per 100 possessions, so +7 is clearly a great price for the underdogs here, especially after they swept the regular-season series SU and ATS. Bet accordingly – the AI has spoken.
NCAAB Pick: Texas-Rio Grande Valley +7 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook