#Betting101: Villanova in Clover, But We’ll Take the 'Over'

Monday, April 2, 2018 1:02 PM UTC

Monday, Apr. 2, 2018 1:02 PM UTC

The Villanova Wildcats are probably going to beat the Michigan Wolverines tonight, but when it comes to your college basketball picks, consider taking the "over."

NCAA Championship Game: #Betting101Free NCAAB Pick: Over 144.5 (–105)Best Line Offered: Intertops

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And the beat goes on. The No. 1 Villanova Wildcats absolutely destroyed the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks in Saturday’s March Madness semifinal, winning 95-79 as 5-point favorites and making us very happy here at the home office. Villanova is now 5-0 ATS in the NCAA Tournament, and 27-12 ATS on the season. Everything has gone according to plan.

So why aren’t we recommending the Wildcats for tonight's national championship game (9:20 p.m. ET; TBS) against the Michigan Wolverines? Because it looks like the betting market has finally woken up to just how awesome Villanova is. The ‘Cats opened as 7-point favorites on the college basketball odds board, and if we’re reading the numbers right, that line is too close for comfort.

Healthy Choices

Let’s start with our go-to college hoops stats. Ken Pomeroy has Villanova rated nearly 8.5 points better than Michigan per 100 possessions, according to Adjusted Efficiency Margin. We can expect these teams to get in about 66 possessions tonight in San Antonio, unless they go to overtime. That’s close to Villanova -6. Definitely not the 2-point difference we want between the projections and the actual odds.

This line looks even tighter using the Simple Rating System at Sports Reference. They have the Wildcats (26.38 SRS) almost exactly seven points better than the Wolverines (19.30 SRS) per game. As for our ESPN-based sources, there’s a big disagreement between the Basketball Power Index and the projections at FiveThirtyEight. The former has Villanova’s chances at nearly 80 percent, the latter at 64 percent. If we split the difference at 72 percent, then use the NBA numbers at Wizard of Odds as a rough guide, that works out to ... let’s see, carry the one ... Villanova -6.5.

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The national title matchup is set, and it could all come down to pace. @MBeller's three keys to the game https://t.co/DhyYTjXHFd

— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) April 1, 2018

This, plus the fact that Michigan is 25-12-2 ATS on the year, is why we’re recommending the total for your college basketball picks. And we’re going with a small bet on the "over," which is 26-13 for the Wildcats. It’s harder for us to gauge how much betting value there is with totals, and the "under" is 20-17-2 for the Wolverines, who run one of the slowest tempos in Division I. But the consensus reports show nearly two-thirds of early bettors taking "over" 145, and when Villanova played the glacial No. 16 Radford Highlanders in the first round, they won 87-61 and blew out the 138.5-point total. So may the better team win, and may the sphere be with you, ever after.

Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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