The Final Four is finally here and while there were plenty of upsets, we have four very familiar teams. Duke Vs. North Carolina is the premium matchup, while a shorthanded Villanova team will look to take down Kansas. Here are our writing staff’s best bets for the NCAA Final Four round.
#1 Kansas vs #2 Villanova: 1H Under 62 (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
First half unders have been hot in March. Since the Sweet 16 started, first half unders are a whopping 11-1 in the NCAA tournament, and I’m looking to back this trend one more time.
Villanova runs at one of the slowest paces in the nation. The Wildcats are 345th in tempo and and 349th in average possession length. Nova’s average offensive possession lasts almost 20 seconds.
Collin Gillespie walks the ball up the floor calmly, sets the first pick-and-roll, and then the ‘Cats run ball-screen after ball-screen until they find the matchup they like. The goal is to get the ball around the perimeter and find a solid 3-point shot. Villanova is 20th nationally in 3-point rate (46.1% 3PA/FGA) and finished second in the Big East in 3-point shooting (36%).
So, in general, Nova has few possessions with high efficiency. The problem is that Justin Moore is out. Moore is so essential to what the ‘Cats do, as he paces the Wildcats in shot percentage (26.2%) and is the second-leading scorer (14.8 PPG).
It’s going to be tough for the Wildcats to score at such a high efficiency without Moore on the floor. Especially against a Kansas defense that was top-40 nationally in efficiency defending ball-screens, per ShotQuality.
I actually believe the Jayhawks are underrated defensively, because their defensive efficiency metrics are above average across the board. I also believe they might be overrated offensively, because the ‘Hawks are inefficient at running ball-screen sets and rely on shot-makers to carry the offense. Those shot-makers started slow against Miami, and could start slow again in the Final Four.
So, between the Villanova pace, the Kansas offense/defense, and the recent trends, the first half under looks tasty to me. Bet it to 61.
Author: Tanner McGrath
#2 Duke vs #8 North Carolina: Race to 10 Points – 1st Half (Duke -135 DK)
Duke has a better Offensive Rating, FG%, and 3PT%. Based on their percentages, Duke is expected to produce more points per shot. Defensively, Duke is stingier against the pick and roll as well as spot up shooters.
Duke forces turnovers at a higher rate than North Carolina, and turnovers lead to easier points.
Because this is Coach K’s last season, I expect the Blue Devils to come out swinging early and hard. Look for Duke to hit 10 points first and build a small early lead.
Author: Braxton Reynolds
2 Duke vs 8 North Carolina: Under 151 (-110) at FanDuel
Neither of these teams have great defenses but this is more a bet on the number than the teams. In what is shaping up to be the most hyped game of the college basketball season and arguably one of the most anticipated games of the last decade, I expect there to be stretches where one if not both of these teams get tight offensively.
The suggested final score right now is 77-73 and with a number that high, all it will take is 5-10 minutes of slow offensive play to shoot this over in the foot.
Not to mention that these two teams know each other better than any other two teams in the tournament.
Author: Patrick Monnin
#1 Kansas vs #2 Villanova: Kansas -2.5 2H (-110) at Caesars Sportsbook
Kansas came out flat against Miami. The Jayhawks couldn’t figure out the Miami transition offense, and the Hurricanes roasted KU on the way to a six-point halftime lead.
Then Bill Self made adjustments.
After that, Kansas roasted the Hurricanes, beating Miami 47-15 in the second half alone.
Villanova is short-handed, and Jay Wright will have a smart game plan that keeps Villanova in the game for 20 minutes. But once coach Self adjusts and Villanova begins to run out of depth without Justin Moore, I’m expecting the Jayhawks to take advantage.
Kansas is a second-half team and this is set up perfectly for a big-time second-half performance.
Author: Tanner McGrath
Kansas -2 (-110) Against Villanova 1H
The Kansas Jayhawks are the team to beat (in my opinion) for this year’s March Madness Tournament. They have blown through the competition and average 78.3 points per game in the regular season and 76 points in the tournament.
Ochai Agbaji has led this team to victory over the course of this season and his potential is unmatched in this Final Four game against Villanova. Villanova has made great strides throughout the season and tournament, but had difficulty blowing past Houston in the Elite Eight matchups only putting up 27 points in the first half.
Kansas starts their games out strong and I have confidence that they’ll be up at least three points at halftime, and they should be able to take the moneyline of -195 as well.
Author: Maggie Rivers