Big West Conference Tournament Odds: Anteaters, Gauchos Favorites

Irvine, UCSB Favorites in Wide-Open Tournament

The Big West Conference Tournament odds show a number of teams that have a realistic chance of coming away with the title. While Irvine and UC Santa Barbara are the two favorites there are about six teams you can make a case for. But favorites are favorites for a reason, so the Anteaters loom as the team to beat.

Fullerton, Riverside and Hawaii can make some noise in the tournament if they’re playing well. Ken Pomeroy has the top five teams in the betting odds all within five points of each other. The Sagarin college basketball ratings have it closer than that. So the Big West should deliver some exciting games in the conference tournament, played in Henderson, Nevada. All games will be broadcast on ESPN+, with the championship game aired on ESPN2 on Saturday, March 11 at 9:30 p.m. ET.

The Favorites

UCIIrvine Anteaters (+220)

Irvine and Santa Barbara tied for the regular season conference title with 15-5 records. So it’s no surprise to see the two teams favored to win the conference tournament. Irvine can’t match the Gauchos offensively, but the Anteaters are solid defensively. Irvine has the second-best defense in the conference based on the adjusted efficiency ratings. The Anteaters aren’t bad offensively, ranking second to UC Santa Barbara, so Irvine is the most well-rounded team in the Big West Conference.

The Anteaters shoot the 3-pointer well, although they don’t shoot from long range often. Irvine scores just 28.5% of its points from 3-point range despite shooting 37%. Defensively, Irvine is in the top 10 nationally in 2-point field goal percentage. Irvine is going to create a fantastic college basketball matchup for whichever opponent it draws during the tournament.

UCSBUC Santa Barbara Gauchos (+250)

Santa Barbara is getting a little less respect than Irvine in the Big West Conference Tournament odds. The Gauchos are definitely an offensive-minded team, although the defense isn’t all that bad. UCSB’s deliberate style of offense helps the defensive numbers a bit, as the Gauchos rank No. 317 in adjusted tempo. Santa Barbara shoots 55.1% from 2-point range, which is No. 20 in the nation. The Gauchos score 55.8% of their points from 2-point range and just 22.8% from 3-point range.

Defensively, UCSB is solid against the 2-pointer, but rank No. 244 against the 3-pointer. The Gauchos were No. 7 defensively in conference games, which is a bit of a concern, although the offense can make up for some defensive lapses.

The Outsiders

CSFCal St. Fullerton Titans (+600)

Fullerton’s defense picked it up a notch down the stretch and the Titans ended the season with a six-game winning streak. So you have to give them a bit of consideration based on recent form. The offense is pretty average but doesn’t need to do a whole lot. The Titans were one of the best teams against the NCAAB spreads, going 18-8-2 ATS this season. That’s a sign of a team not getting a whole lot of respect from the oddsmakers or the betting public. Fullerton is especially strong against the 3-pointer, allowing teams to shoot just 30.9%. But the Titans have a tough opening foe in Hawaii and it will only get tougher from there.

UCRVUC Riverside Highlanders (+650)

Riverside finished third in the regular season but are the fourth choice in the Big West Conference Tournament odds. The Highlanders are a little better than average on offense and pretty average defensively. Riverside hits 35.1% of its 3-point attempts and will have to be scoring from there if it wants to do anything in the tournament. The Highlanders are pretty good about preventing offensive rebounds, but allow too many good shots. The team’s defensive field goal percentage is a bit on the high side.

HAWHawaii Rainbow Warriors (+700)

Hawaii is all defense, all of the time and that’s going to be what carries the Warriors or sinks them. The Warriors were No. 58 in adjusted defensive efficiency but only because they don’t force many turnovers. Hawaii is in the top 12 in both 2-point and 3-point defensive field goal percentage. The Rainbow Warriors also had some bad luck, with opponents making 74.8% of their foul shots against Hawaii. Offense can come and go in games, but defense is usually a little more reliable, so you can’t discount Hawaii. The opening game with Fullerton should be a good one.

Projected Championship Matchup

The Big West Conference Tournament odds pose a bit of a dilemma for bettors. Do you play it safe with one of the two favorites or make a value play on the assumption there isn’t a great difference between the top teams? Even though UCSB is the No. 2 seed, it may have an easier path to the finals than Irvine. The Gauchos would have No. 3 Riverside in the semifinals, while the Anteaters will be looking at the winner of Fullerton and Hawaii. If the officials let them play, the Warriors could be tough, so let’s call it UCSB and Hawaii in the title game. The Warriors are intriguing but the Gauchos appear to be the safer wager at +250.

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