NCAA Final Four Betting Lines Picks
All great things have to come to an end, right?
A March Madness dotted with stunning upsets, game-winning baskets, and unforgettable moments comes to an end this weekend in San Antonio. But with only two games separating four teams from a national championship, the best may be yet to come. Here’s our picks for both of Saturday’s matchups, with all odds coming from BetOnline!
Over/under 129.5 points: No. 11 Loyola-Chicago vs. No. 3 Michigan (-5)
The Ramblers, making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1985, have proved naysayers wrong every step of the way — what’s one more? As good as Loyola’s previous foes (Miami, Tennessee, Nevada, Kansas State) have been, Michigan is a significant step up.
The age-old argument between a great offense versus a great defense will be put to the test in this one. The Wolverines rank fourth nationally in defensive efficiency (though, the Ramblers aren’t far behind at 19). Offensively, the Ramblers are as methodical as they come, shooting 50 percent from the field and 40 percent from three.
Digging deeper, the root of Loyola’s success on offense comes from brilliant spacing and crisp ball movement. The team’s assist-percentage through four tournament games is an astounding 65.4 percent. However, they’ll meet their match with a stifling Michigan defense that chases adversaries off the perimeter and paint better than anyone — Wolverine opponents are taking two-point jump shots 43.3 percent of the time.
This clash would be a real toss-up if not for one thing: Mo Wagner. The 6-foot-11 product from Germany is Michigan’s centerpiece and true difference-maker. The junior is a prototypical stretch-five that makes 39.5 percent of his tries from three and 60.3 percent from inside the arc. Wagner’s size and versatility should pose problems for Loyola’s four-guard lineup, which features one rotation player at 6-foot-9 and no one else above 6-foot-6.
Keep an eye on turnovers, as well. Points will be at a premium with both teams stretching out possessions. The Wolverine’s have the third-lowest turnover rate in the country, whereas Loyola is far more sloppy at 219th. Those giveaways are opportunities for Michigan to run away with it.
In the end, the clock will finally strike midnight on the Ramblers and Sister Jean on Saturday as the Wolverine’s size and suffocating defense will prove to be too much.
Over/under 154.5 points: No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 1 Villanova (-5)
For only the second time in nine years, a pair of top seeds advanced to the Final Four. However, the train stops here for one.
The safest bet here is the over. Both these offenses are cream of the crop by various metrics. If we’re talking KenPom efficiency rankings, Villanova ranks one and Kansas is five. What about points per game? Among power-five foes, the Wildcats are again one, whereas the Jayhawks come in at 14. Field-goal percentage knocks Villanova to fifth nationally and Kansas to ninth. We think you get the point, the scoreboard will be busy on Saturday.
Picking against-the-spread winner is far more difficult. Both programs feature a cast of high school All-Americans, NBA hopefuls, and elite head coaches. Saying this is a no-brainer, but whoever shoots better wins on Saturday, simple as that. It’s anyone’s guess who’ll have the hotter hand, though, as both teams hit over 40 percent from beyond the arc.
One of the team’s superstar players might just have to will them to victory. Kansas’ Devonte Graham and Villanova’s Jalen Brunson are two of four Naismith Player of the Year Award finalists. Both are upperclassmen, but Brunson might have more big-game experience being on the Wildcats’ championship team from two seasons ago.
Honestly, we don’t know who will punch their ticket to the national championship — and probably end up winning it. Nonetheless, we’re pretty confident it’ll be a closely-contested game that comes down to the wire. Knowing that, take Kansas and the points.
Pick: Kansas (+5) and over
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