One bid to the NCAA Tournament is available for the teams in the Atlantic Sun Conference. That conference tournament starts on Tuesday March 3 and the top eight teams in the standings qualified. It is a conference tournament with games held at the campus site of the higher seed. Liberty won the conference regular season title via the tiebreaker, which is Net Rating if the head-to-head records are tied. Liberty ranked 64th at the time the draw was figured out and North Florida ranked 153rd.
This marks the second season in which this conference has been lined regularly, so bettors looking to tap into the futures market or take a game-by-game approach are definitely more educated on the eight teams that are in this field. They have been handicapping them over the course of the season.
It also means that the oddsmakers have a better idea as well. So, with that in mind, we take a look at the field, the odds from 5Dimes Sportsbook, and the format:
- Liberty 27-4 (13-3) (Net Rtg tiebreaker) -260
- North Florida 20-11(13-3) +185
- Lipscomb 14-15 (9-7) (NetRtg tiebreaker) +1450
- Stetson 15-16 (9-7) +3500
- North Alabama 13-16 (8-8) +4500
- Florida Gulf Coast 10-21 (7-9) (H2H tiebreaker) +8500
- Jacksonville 14-17 (7-9) +5500
- NJIT 9-20 (6-10) +10000
Liberty is far and away the best team in this conference and the clear-cut conference tournament favorite. That being said, Liberty did lose to North Florida, Lipscomb, and Stetson, so this is not the same team that won the conference tournament last season. There have been some bad efforts, but Liberty would be at home in the title game if the Flames were to make it that far.
Liberty won at Lipscomb last year in the championship game and then knocked off Mississippi State in a 12 vs. 5 matchup before losing to Virginia Tech.
Here is the schedule for the 2020 A-Sun Conference Tournament:
(higher seed at home)
Tuesday March 3
7 p.m. ET: 8 NJIT at 1 Liberty
7 p.m. ET: 5 North Alabama at 4 Stetson
7 p.m. ET: 7 Jacksonville at 2 North Florida
8 p.m. ET: 6 Florida Gulf Coast at 3 Lipscomb
Thursday March 5
12 p.m. ET: 5/4 winner at 1 Liberty
12 p.m. ET: 7/2 vs 6/3 winner
Sunday March 8
Lowest remaining seed at highest remaining seed
This is a pretty easy conference tournament to bet. Liberty at the price offered will be a better price than the finals matchup, irrespective of opponent. The Flames are going to be at home and in a favorite role over anybody that they play. Obviously the Flames still need to make their way into that championship game, but they are much better than everybody else in this conference.
Bart Torvik has Liberty ranked 70th and North Florida ranked 145th. Ken Pomeroy has Liberty 69th and North Florida 154th. There is no excuse for Liberty to not make it past NJIT and the winner of North Alabama and Stetson. In all likelihood, Liberty will be well over a -200 favorite in the title game, so their futures price actually carries some value here.
As is often the case in these top-heavy leagues, you want to try and find the best price on the opposite side of the bracket from the #1 seed. That is not easy here with North Florida and Lipscomb fairly interchangeable and Jacksonville actually rated as the third-best team in this conference by both KenPom and Torvik.
Jacksonville would have to go on the road and win twice to get to the title game, but the Dolphins are the best defensive team not named Liberty in this conference and we know that defense can travel. Unfortunately, Jacksonville did lose both meetings against North Florida and didn’t seem to match up particularly well, as UNF had 1.093 and 1.261 points per possession in the two games.
It looks like the best way to play against Liberty is to take the team you like more from the 2/3 slots. UNF and Lipscomb split in the regular season, though North Florida has a much better offense. Lipscomb is in better recent form with wins in six of seven games.
To me, I’m just rolling with the chalk and taking Liberty. You can get a decent price on Lipscomb or UNF once the title game rolls around that will take away the gamble in the semifinals if that is the route that you want to go. They were -10.5 against North Florida at home last time out. Even with a correction to the close game and UNF’s win earlier this season, Liberty is still going to have a higher ML than -260 and they aren’t losing before the finals.
The value isn’t good enough on UNF. Lipscomb did just beat Liberty, but if you want to take the Bisons, use the money line rollover instead of the futures price at +1450. You’ll do better with that starting in the -300 range against Florida Gulf Coast and then get big underdog prices at North Florida and at Liberty.
Pick: Liberty -260