Tar Heels rewarding backers heading into clash with Terrapins

It's that most wonderful time of the year for sports bettors, as college basketball conference tournament play begins in earnest this week while other conference regular-season races come to their conclusions.

Here's a quick preview of what's happening this week in college hoops, with a few tasty betting tidbits for those who like to get down on the games.

The action begins Monday in the Big East when No. 10 Louisville hosts 20-9 Cincinnati (7 pm ET, ESPN). In early betting the Cardinals, riding a five-game winning streak, were favored by 10 points over the Bearcats who are just 1-6 ATS over their last seven games.

Also, on the college basketball futures betting market Louisville is listed at around 8/1 to win the upcoming NCAA tournament, with Cincy getting 100/1.

Tuesday features the beginning of the madness that is the conference tournament season. Play begins in the Big South and Horizon League, with berths in the Big Dance on the line.

Also Tuesday, in two SEC battles between tournament hopefuls, 21-8 Missouri hosts 18-11 Arkansas (7 pm ET), and 21-8 Mississippi hosts 19-10 Alabama (9 pm ET). Up in the Big Ten 25-4 Indiana hosts 21-7 Ohio State (9 pm ET). And out in the Mountain West Boise State, on the bubble at 20-8, visits 22-7 UNLV (10 pm ET).

Wednesday features the start of conference tournament play in the Atlantic Sun, the Patriot League, the Northeast Conference, the Ohio Valley and the West Coast Conference. Also Wednesday 19-10 Iowa State hosts 22-6 Oklahoma State (7 pm ET); 23-4 Georgetown visits an 18-12 Villanova team that's 17-9 ATS on the season (7 pm ET); and 20-9 Maryland, also on the tournament bubble, hosts 21-8 North Carolina which is somewhat surprisingly 18-9 ATS this season (7 pm ET).

On Thursday conference tournament play tips off in the Missouri Valley, and continues in several other places. Also Thursday 20-7 Butler, after getting dumped by VCU over the weekend, visits 18-9 UMass (7 pm ET); 23-6 Oregon, looking for a Pac-12 regular-season championship, visits 19-9 Colorado (9 pm ET); 22-7 Michigan State hosts 20-9 Wisconsin (9 pm ET); and 26-3 Louisiana Tech, which is 16-0 in WAC play and 16-8 ATS, visits 19-10 New Mexico State (9 pm ET).

On that NCAA tournament board Michigan State and Georgetown are both getting 10/1; Missouri is getting 50/1; Wisconsin and North Carolina are both listed at 60/1; Butler is getting 80/1; and Colorado, UNLV and Oregon are all getting 100/1.



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