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Final Four Betting Guidance
What started with 68 teams has been narrowed down to the Final Four. Check out our in-depth preview of Saturday’s games and see which teams we believe will keep dancing.
Over/Under 138 points — No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (-6)
There are many similarities between these two programs. Neither have ever played in the Final Four, both were doubted heavily to reach it this far, and lockdown defense has been the calling for the two all year long. Now, they face each other for a trip to the national title game at stake.
We might be seeing the two best defenses in the country taking the court in this one. Gonzaga (36-1) and South Carolina (26-10) rank first and second, respectively, in adjusted defensive efficiency rankings, according to kenpom.com. During the season, the Bulldogs held opponents to 60.9 points a game — fourth best in the country — while the Gamecocks didn't lag far allowing 64.9 points, 31st best overall. So expect points to be at a premium in this one, with an under the likely outcome.
This matchup might be decided beyond the arc. It's not that Gonzaga is a team that relies on the three-point line a lot, but they are very efficient from downtown. The Bulldogs are knocking down a modest 37.8 percent of their three-point shot attempts, which ranks 52nd best in the nation. Their backcourt rotation is filled with players that can stroke it from deep.
However, guarding the perimeter is where the Gamecocks thrive. They are holding opponents to a measly 30.1 percent shooting from deep, eighth-lowest in the country. Stopping the three-point shot has been South Carolina's key throughout the tournament.
In their opening round, Marquette entered the game with the highest three-point shooting percentage across the NCAA and went 11-of-28. Duke's dynamic duo of Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard fared no better the next round, hitting on 4-of-14 three-point attempts.
We like South Carolina to cover the spread. Their route to this game — beating Marquette, Duke, Baylor, and Florida — has them more battle-tested than Gonzaga.
Pick: South Carolina (+6)
Over/Under 151.5 points — No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 1 North Carolina (-5)
It wasn't easy, but both teams earned this Final Four clash. The Tar Heels (31-7) have been national championship favorites throughout and have flourished under the pressure. After winning their first three March Madness games by a combined 58 points, they outlasted Kentucky 75-73 in the Elite Eight. The Ducks (33-5) were circled as an upset alert by many pundits after big man Chris Boucher suffered a season-ending injury in the Pac 12 Tournament. Oregon dominated top-seeded Kansas 74-60 in the previous game.
In a Final Four that features three coaches that have never reached it this far, you have to believe North Carolina has a big advantage with Roy Williams on the sideline. This is Williams' ninth Final Four run, the fourth most in NCAA history. The experience runs down the roster, too. Lets not forget this team is avenging a buzzer-beating loss to Villanova in last year's NCAA championship.
Rebounding will be the key battle in this one. The Tar Heels are offensive rebounding machines, finishing first in the nation with 15.7 offensive boards per contest. Meanwhile, Oregon are pretty mediocre down low. During the season, they came down with 25.9 defensive rebounds a game, which was 114th in the NCAA. Not having Boucher, who stands 6-foot-10, really hurts them in this one. If North Carolina dominates down low, the second-chance points will be too much for the Ducks to overcome.
We like the Tar Heels to advance, but we're not so sure they'll cover the five-point spread. Oregon has risen to the occasion all month long. Between injuries and wire-to-wire March Madness wins, the Ducks have proven they won't roll over no matter what. Expect them to keep this matchup within two possessions.
Pick: Oregon (+5)
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