NCAA Tournament Betting: Breaking Down the Final Four
This year’s NCAA Tournament has whittled its way down to four with the Final Four being held on Saturday at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. While there are no Cinderella entrants (see: Loyola-Chicago last year) many of the usual suspects (Kansas, Villanova, Duke, Kentucky, and North Carolina) were bounced. Let’s take a look at how all four teams got to this point and how they stack up for Saturday’s matchups.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Overall Record: 30-16 SU, 19-16-1 ATS, 15-20-1 O/U
Tournament Record: 4-0 ATS, 1-3 O/U
Notes: We knew heading into the tournament that the Red Raiders were elite defensively. And they’ve lived up to that billing and some. TTU’s four opponents ranked 74th, 18th, 20th, and 1st in offensive efficiency heading into the postseason. They combined for a staggering 0.84 points per possession. And Tech’s late season offensive surge has continued with a current stretch of 13 games at 1.17 ppp. Tech has jumped from 107th (2/2) to 30th in offensive efficiency! What’s also noticeable is the normally slow and plodding Red Raiders have been the aggressor on offense. In Saturday’s win over Gonzaga, there were 71 possessions; Tech’s sixth fastest game of the season. If that pace is matched vs. Michigan State the game has a very good chance to top 133 points.
Michigan State Spartans
Overall Record: 32-6 SU, 27-11 ATS, 15-22 O/U
Tournament Record: 3-1 ATS, 1-3 O/U
Notes: Five and half players is essentially what the Spartans have used thus far. Nick Ward has still yet to play more than 20 minutes in a tournament game. Winston, McQuaid, Goins, and Henry meanwhile combined to play all but five minutes in the win over Duke. Also amazing is that Sparty hit only two free throws and got killed on the glass 42-31 and still found a way to beat the ultra-talented Blue Devils. Speaking of free throws, after shooting 25-of-26 in their opening round win over Bradley, the Spartans are a combined 15-of-25 in three games. Their opponents, 29-of-41. Winning the charity stripe is generally a must for March success. MSU has defied those odds and some.
Overall Record: 30-9 SU, 21-16-1 ATS, 22-16-1 O/U
Tournament Record: 3-1 ATS, 4-0 O/U
Notes: The Tigers have hit 11 or more threes in a staggering 26 games this season. Against Kentucky, they hoisted 23 attempts and managed only 7. It was the War Eagle’s fourth lowest output of the season and it still resulted in a berth in the Final Four. I felt that without Chuma Okeke, Auburn would be even more vulnerable than normal on the glass but they managed a +6 margin vs. the Wildcats. Virginia is a combined +32 in its four games. Big key to Saturday’s game; can Auburn compete on the boards?
Overall Record: 33-3 SU, 25-11 ATS, 16-20 O/U
Tournament Record: 2-2 ATS, 1-4 O/U
Notes: What most will remember about the win over Purdue was Carson Edwards’ 42 points and 10 (most of which hotly contested) 3-pointers. But eliminate Edwards for a second — or have him producing a “normal” output — and the Cavs owned the box score. UVA grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, shot 17-of-20 from the free throw line (Purdue went 7-of-10), and turned the ball over only five times even with the extra five minutes of overtime. Virginia took one of the biggest punches of the tournament, won, and covered!