College basketball conference tournament season has officially arrived as the calendar flips to March, and while the WCC Tournament isn’t the first to tip off this postseason, it’ll be easily the biggest one to date when it officially starts on Thursday.
We won’t see top seeds Gonzaga or Saint Mary’s until Monday, and it feels like a near-certainty on paper that one of those two teams will be cutting down the nets on Tuesday.
Still, anything can happen in March, and there are some value plays worth targeting further down the board.
Here are the odds to win the 2023 WCC Tournament courtesy of FanDuel and our best bet to win it:
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2023 WCC Tournament betting odds (via FanDuel)
Who’s favored to win it?
To nobody’s surprise, Gonzaga (-145) enters this tournament as the favorite for the umpteenth time after winning it nine of the last 10 years and 18 times in 23 tries since head coach Mark Few took over in 1999.
Still, this isn’t the same team we’re used to at this stage.
While the Bulldogs still lead the nation in offensive efficiency (123.4) and rank 10th in adjusted efficiency margin, that’s a far cry from the top-two ranking they’ve boasted five of the last six years – which often leads oddsmakers to price Gonzaga at -400 or better to win this tournament.
That isn’t the case this year, and No. 1 seed Saint Mary’s is a key reason why.
The Gaels actually rank two spots higher in net efficiency thanks to their stellar defense, which held the Zags to two of their worst offensive outputs all year in these teams’ two meetings in the regular season.
They’re also the only other team besides Gonzaga to win this tournament in the last 14 years, breaking through in 2010, 2012 and 2019.
Which teams are sleepers?
Loyola Marymount was the only team to beat both Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s this year, and it’s easily the best sleeper bet to play spoiler this week, too.
The Lions are an experienced group that shoot the ball well, crash the defensive boards and defend the 3-point line, which is a strong formula for knocking off the trigger-happy teams atop the bracket.
Loyola Marymount also benefits from a top-four seed, meaning it needs just one win to set up a duel with Saint Mary’s on Monday.
If you’re looking for another long shot, keep an eye on San Francisco.
The Dons are a high-variance bunch that attempt 49% of their shots from deep – the third-most by any team in the country.
If those shots are falling, we could see a surprise run from this group.
Betting on College Basketball?
Best bet to win WCC Tournament
I’m a little surprised to see the top-seeded Gaels dealing at this price with some books offering them at shorter than even odds to win the WCC Tournament.
Either way, I’m riding with the best team in this conference and the one that’s given Gonzaga the most trouble this year.
Saint Mary’s has been a top-10 team all year long thanks in large part to its stifling defense, which limits easy scoring chances and attacks the glass with reckless abandon.
Gonzaga’s biggest loss in WCC play each of the last two years has come against Saint Mary’s, and I just don’t have a lot of faith in the Zags’ defense or their supporting cast around star scorer Drew Timme.
With just two wins separating the Gaels from a conference title, I love this bet at a plus-money price.