Bracket Busters

With Oddsmaker Nick Bogdanovich


This week I'm presenting my estimates of how the market is currently rating all the teams on the major board. Back on Wednesday we looked at the big six football conferences since those are the teams getting most of the TV coverage right now. Today, I'm going to look at the six regular board conferences who are playing in Bracket Buster matchups this weekend. Sunday morning's report will feature all remaining conferences.

The full week of articles will have covered the entire board. Then, you can update those numbers on the fly through the rest of the season as you monitor game day lines and final scores.

Power Ratings like these reflect neutral court differences. You have to add in home court advantage for yourself. That's typically 4 to 4.5 points in college basketball. Some handicappers will go as low as 3-4 points in tightly compact geographical leagues, and may go as high as 5 points in spread out leagues, or in seasons where home teams are pouring it on for some reason (like the Big 12 for parts of this season).

What should you do in the Bracket Busters? Most studies I've seen show home court is smaller than you'd expect in these games. Many road teams get fired up for a special event, while home crowds don't necessarily respond with much fire when a team they've never heard of comes to visit.

I have my own personal strategies for dealing with home court on a case by case basis in the Bracket Busters. I need to protect that information for my employer Cal-Neva (where I'm oddsmaker and Sportsbook Director), and my handicapping clients.

I'm going to start with the Missouri Valley Conference because this group often does very well in the Bracket Busters.

Wichita State 83
Missouri State 80
Northern Iowa 76
Creighton 75
Indiana State 74
Evansville 73
Southern Illinois 72
Drake 70
Illinois State 69
Bradley 69

I have to say the league may not be as good top to bottom this year as it's been in the past. But, you know the teams at the top will be dangerous in the Big Dance. Kansas can tell you all about Northern Iowa. I'm interested to see how the MVC fares this weekend up and down the ticket.

Butler 82
Cleveland State 81
Valparaiso 78
Wright State 77
Wisconsin-Milwaukee 75
Detroit 74
Wisconsin-Green Bay 73
Loyola-Chicago 72
Youngstown State 68
Illinois Chicago 65

You might be wondering why Butler is at the top when they're having a disappointing season. Remember that I'm looking at MARKET prices rather than on court reality. The market has priced Butler like they're the best team in the Horizon all year long. Your goal as handicappers and Las Vegas bettors is to find the teams the market is wrong about and do something about it. Cleveland State will have some darkhorse potential in the Dance this year, but they blow a bit hot and cold for my taste. They have two double digit losses to Butler!

George Mason 85
Old Dominion 81
VCU 80
Drexel 79
James Madison 78
Hofstra 77
Delaware 72
William & Mary 72
Northeastern 71
NC Wilmington 71
Georgia State 71
Towson 66

Will George Mason be heard from again this year in the Big Dance? They just had a VERY impressive 20-point road win at Virginia Commonwealth. They visit Northern Iowa Saturday. Second rated Old Dominion will play Cleveland State on Sunday in a nice test. Virginia Commonwealth at Wichita State is a game everyone should watch Friday Night.

Kent State 77
Buffalo 75
Akron 74
Ball State 73
Miami of Ohio 73
Ohio 71
W. Michigan 70
Bowling Green 69
N. Illinois 66
C. Michigan 64
E. Michigan 64
Toledo 62

Not a great year for the MAC. You'll note that most of today's conferences have leaders who are in the 80's. Neither Kent State nor Buffalo will make it that high even if they close out very strong. There was a time where this conference was equally dangerous, or even more dangerous that the Missouri Valley or Horizon in postseason play. Maybe they'll have a good weekend in the Bracket Busters and get things moving in the right direction.

Utah State 83
Boise State 76
New Mexico State 74
Nevada 74
Idaho 73
Hawaii 71
Fresno State 71
San Jose State 69
Louisiana Tech 68

This is really a one team conference, with Utah State way ahead of the field. They have a disappointing history in the Big Dance though. They're often a popular darkhorse pick because they look so strong in the regular season. To this point they haven't stepped up in class very well. A road trip Saturday to St. Mary's will certainly have a tournament feel to it. You could tell St. Mary's was fired up for that game when they lost to San Diego Wednesday Night. (Note that St. Mary's of the West Coast Conference is the only major team from that conference in a Bracket Buster game. They'd rate at an 84 on the scale we're using).

Long Beach State 77
Pacific 74
Cal-Santa Barbara 74
Cal-Poly SLO 72
Cal-Northridge 69
Cal-Riverside 68
Cal-Irvine 68
Cal-Davis 67
Cal-Fullerton 66

The MAC of California, with the best team nowhere near 80, and may teams in the 60's. The Big West had some good results last year in the Bracket Busters because opponents didn't take them seriously enough. I like handicapping this conference because it's nearby. I just might have a big play involving a Big West team or a WAC team this weekend.

Remember that these numbers won't reflect any injury news that might show up on game day. They do serve as a good general assessment I believe for how the market is rating these teams and conferences.

I have a very big weekend planned for my clients. We start with the Ivy League and possibly a Bracket Buster on Friday Night to build our bankrolls. Saturday will feature one of my strongest releases so far this season. Sunday I expect to have a major play in one of the big TV games like Ohio State/Purdue or Georgia Tech/Duke.

You can purchase my BEST BETS here at the website with your credit card. Or, sign up for the full season and enjoy discounted rates. If you have any questions, call my handicapping office at 1-877-822-2276.

Whatever the schedule, whatever the challenges, the best information will always come to you DIRECT FROM NEVADA!


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