Brackets Busted? Here Are Some Final Four Betting Trends to Know

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, March 28, 2017 4:00 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 28, 2017 4:00 PM UTC

A total of 64 of the NCAA Tournament’s 67 games have been played, and we are down to a unique Final Four of North Carolina, Gonzaga, Oregon and South Carolina. Here’s guessing you didn’t get that 100 percent right in your bracket. Let’s look at some Final Four betting trends.

I don’t really count the First Four as part of the NCAA Tournament because those are play-in games and no bracket contests include First Four games. So if we throw those out, there have been 60 games played in the 2017 Big Dance. Underdogs are 32-24-3 ATS (57.1 percent) in this tournament, with one game closing as pick'em. The ‘over/under’ is 33-26-1 (55.9 percent ‘overs’).


East No. 7 South Carolina vs. West No. 1 Gonzaga

This is the first national semifinal on Saturday from University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The Zags are currently 6.5-point NCAA betting favorites. It’s the Final Four debut for both schools. South Carolina hadn’t even been in the NCAA Tournament since 2004 and hadn’t won a game in it since 1973. The Gamecocks might be the most unlikely Final Four teams since George Mason in 2006. It’s the fifth straight year, however, a seed 7th or lower has made it. Just of the previous four years has a 7th or lower made it to the national championship game:

  • 2016: No. 10 Syracuse lost 83-66 to No. 1 North Carolina in Final Four.
  • 2015: No. 7 Michigan State lost 81-61 to No. 1 Duke in Final Four.
  • 2014: No. 7 UConn beat No. 1 Florida 63-53 in Final Four; beat No. 8 Kentucky 60-54 in the title game.
  • 2013: No. 9 Wichita State lost 72-68 to No. 1 Louisville in Final Four.

South Carolina is 15-16-2 ATS this season. The Gamecocks are 4-0 ATS in this tournament, covering as a 1-point favorite vs. No. 10 Marquette (93-73), as a 6.5-point dog to No. 2 Duke (88-81), a 3-point dog to No. 3 Baylor (70-50) and a 3-point dog to No. 4 Florida (77-70).

In their past 20 games as at least a 6.5-point underdog at any location, South Carolina is 11-9 ATS and is 8-12 straight up.

Gonzaga has the best ATS record in the nation (not including mid-majors who only have a few games with spreads) at 23-9-2. However, the Zags are just 1-2-1 ATS in this tournament. They failed to cover as a 23-point favorite vs. No. 16 South Dakota State (66-46), failed at -10.5 vs. No. 8 Northwestern (79-73), pushed at -3 vs No. 4 West Virginia (61-58) and covered at -8.5 vs. No. 11 Xavier (83-59).

In their past 20 games as at least a 6.5-point favorite at any location, the Bulldogs are 12-7-1 ATS and 19-1 straight-up. That lone SU loss was Gonzaga’s only defeat this season, 79-71 at home to BYU (+20.5) in the regular-season finale.

Gonzaga is 3-1 ATS and straight up in its NCAA Tournament history vs. a No. 7 seed. It last faced one in 2015 as a No. 2 and beat Iowa 87-68 as a 6-point favorite.


Midwest No. 3 Oregon vs. South No. 1 North Carolina

Back in 1939, the first-ever NCAA Tournament was staged and the University of Oregon won the eight-team event by beating Ohio State on the campus of Northwestern. Oregon is making its first Final Four trip since then when the Ducks face the overall NCAA Tournament betting favorites in North Carolina on Saturday. The Tar Heels are making their 20th Final Four trip, the most in history. Roy Williams is the only coach in the Final Four who has been here previously.

It’s only the second time this decade a third seed has reached the national semifinals. In 2011, No. 3 UConn won it all. Other third-seeded champions: Florida in 2006, Syracuse in 2003, Michigan in 1989 and Indiana in 1981.

The Ducks are currently 5-point underdogs. They are 21-15-1 ATS this season. Oregon is 2-1-1 ATS in the Big Dance, covering at -15 vs. No. 14 Iona (93-77), failing to cover at -4.5 vs. No. 11 Rhode Island (75-72), pushing at -1 vs. No. 7 Michigan (69-68) and covering +6.5 vs. No. 1 Kansas (74-60). To make that win over the Jayhawks even more impressive, the game was in Kansas City and about 95 percent KU fans.

In their past 20 games as at least a 5-point underdog at any location, the Ducks are 12-8 ATS and 9-11 straight-up. They have won the past three and covered four straight in that scenario. Oregon is 3-2 ATS and 1-4 SU in its NCAA Tournament history against a No. 1 seed following that upset of Kansas.

North Carolina is 18-15-3 ATS this year and 2-1-1 ATS in the Big Dance. The Heels were -26.5 vs. No. 16 Texas Southern (103-64), -11.5 vs. No. 8 Arkansas (72-65), -7 vs. No. 4 Butler (92-80) and -2 vs. No. 2 Kentucky (75-73) in a thriller.

In their past 20 games as at least a 5-point favorite at any location, the Tar Heels are 12-7-1 ATS and 18-2 SU. Their SU losses were Jan. 28 at Miami and Dec. 13 at Georgia Tech. In its NCAA Tournament history, UNC is 2-4 ATS and SU against a No. 3 seed. It last played one in 2014 and lost to Iowa State. Since 1997, the Heels are 5-4 ATS and SU as a favorite in the Final Four. 

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