There are just three games remaining in March Madness, so we offer up our best bets for Saturday's Final Four matchups.
The college basketball season has reached its apex, with the Final Four on tap for this weekend in the Big Easy. North Carolina and Duke will meet for the first time ever in an NCAA Tournament game; fitting that it should happen in the Final Four during Coach K’s final run before retirement.
On the other side of the bracket, blue bloods Villanova and Kansas do battle with legendary coaches of their own. At stake is the right to face an ACC behemoth in the title game.
We made it to New Orleans. Let's ride with our best bets for the Final Four of the 2022 NCAA Tournament (odds via our top-rated sportsbooks; pick confidence based on a 1-to-5-star scale).
Final Four Best Bets
Moneyline: Kansas (-192 viaFanDuel Sportsbook) ??Against the spread: Villanova +4.5 vs. Kansas (-110 via DraftKings Sportsbook) ?????Over/Under: North Carolina/Duke Over 151 (-110 via FanDuel) ???Upset: North Carolina (+162 via FanDuel) ???Player prop: Armando Bacot Jr. Under 12.5 rebounds (+100 via DraftKings) ?????Parlay: Villanova +4.5 (-110) + Villanova-Kansas Under 133 (-110) + Armando Bacot Under 12.5 rebounds = +628 (via DraftKings) ???
SEE ALSO: March Madness Odds and Picks
Final Four Predictions
ML: Kansas (-192)
I honestly don’t think I’ll be playing the moneyline on favorites for this Final Four, as the value just doesn’t seem to be high enough. That being said, despite the uninspiring value of betting the Jayhawks to do so, I believe Kansas advances to the National Championship in dramatic fashion.
Scroll down a bit to find my logic in Kansas as an outright winner despite riding with Villanova on the point spread, but when it comes to winning the game, I think Kansas has the athleticism and crunch-time decision-making ability to pull this off.
ATS: Villanova +4.5 (-115)
All right, this obviously warrants some explanation, so let’s dive into it. I’ve written all week that I believe Villanova +4.5 is arguably my favorite play of all the Final Four betting options. Yet, I’m not confident the Wildcats will necessarily be able to win the game outright. Sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s true to how I feel about this weekend’s slate.
To put it simply, Villanova doesn’t make a habit of getting blown out. Head coach Jay Wright’s team lost an ugly one to Baylor in December where it scored only 36 points; however, since the turn of the calendar to 2022, the Wildcats have just one loss by more than three points.
Win or lose, Villanova thrives on playing gritty and tough, limiting the possessions of its opponents to ensure a close game. That’s why even with Kansas' dynamic offensive ability, I view this 4.5-point spread as just too big of a number to give the Wildcats.
Even as the competition has stiffened, Villanova’s defense has risen to the challenge, getting better with each subsequent game of the tournament. I like the Wildcats to force a thrilling finish in San Antonio on Saturday, even if they don’t emerge with the win.
SEE ALSO: Villanova vs. Kansas Picks
O/U: North Carolina-Duke Over 151 (-110)
So long as we don’t see a curious lid-on-the-basket situation in the unusual stadium setting at Caesar’s Superdome, I don’t see any reason these two scoring dynamites can’t break through the glass ceiling of this lofty number.
In the last matchup between Duke and UNC, we saw 175 total points. Though I don't necessarily see that kind of back-and-forth scoring parade in this setting, I do believe these two ACC rivals can combine for more than the 154 points they put up back in their first meeting of the year in February. Regardless of which pace we see between the two, both of those contests would have cleared this total.
Not that 151 isn’t a high mark for a total, because it really is. However, I believe if not for some concern about how the two teams would adapt to the sightlines in a spacious stadium environment you would have seen an even higher number. I have confidence in the offensive abilities of both sides to be able to find a rhythm before too much time ticks off the clock. North Carolina’s top-40 adjusted tempo should help in that regard, as I expect the Tar Heels to force the issue like they did when they walloped Duke a few weeks ago at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
Give me the points in what should be the most compelling installment in the history of this great college hoops rivalry.
SEE ALSO: North Carolina vs. Duke Picks
Upset: North Carolina (+162)
Though I feel more strongly about Villanova on the spread, I actually like North Carolina’s range of outcomes for an outright win over Duke better than I do for the Wildcats upsetting the Jayhawks. The hook on Villanova to +4.5 actually makes a notable difference for me on that spread bet, acknowledging that the game is likely to come down to the final possessions. Even with Kansas knocking down some late free throws, I could see Villanova sneaking inside the number with a 4-point loss.
In the case of arguing for an outright upset, I like UNC’s chances better. If you ran a thousand simulations, I would expect Villanova’s style to force a tight game within a couple of possessions the majority of the time, but with Kansas likely emerging with close wins more often than not. Alternatively, UNC-Duke feels like it definitely has the potential to finish with a blowout in favor of one team or the other. It honestly feels like a coin flip that either side could be administering the damage.
North Carolina throttled Duke by 13 points in their last regular-season meeting. Duke won the prior affair by 20 points at UNC. These two teams play with energy and emotion, and if the balance of momentum is tilted in one direction or the other, that’s going to impact the outcome considerably. That’s why I don’t feel there’s as much value on UNC +4; if the Tar Heels play it closely, they’re liable to run away with the thing.
So, of the outright upset possibilities in this Final Four, I like North Carolina better than Villanova.
Player prop: Bacot Under 12.5 rebounds (+100)
UNC star forward Armando Bacot Jr., has been an absolute menace on the boards recently, clearing this total in each of UNC’s last three tournament games. In those contests, Bacot has posted rebounding totals of 16, 15, and an insane 22 rebounds in his team’s convincing win over St. Peter’s. All that being said, his rebounding total is crazy inflated heading into this Final Four game against Duke.
Though Bacot averages 12.8 rebounds per game, which is above this line of 12.5, his two games against Duke this season were outliers on the other side of the spectrum. In the 35 games this season for which Bacot has played at least 20 minutes, he has failed to register a double-digit rebounding total in just five of them. But, you guessed it: two of those five were against Duke.
Logging 30 minutes in both games against the Blue Devils this season, Bacot has rebounding totals of just five and seven. For as exceptional as Bacot is on the glass in most cases, Duke has thus far been able to limit him in that area this year. That fact combined with the reality that Bacot’s total for Saturday is inflated above his season average as a result of his recent rebounding prowess throughout this tournament makes him an easy fade in the category on Saturday.
Parlay: Villanova +4.5 (-110) + Villanova-Kansas Under 133 (-110) + Bacot Under 13.5 rebounds (-125) = +628
See above. TL;DR: Villanova doesn’t get blown out of games and its defense has gotten better with each passing game over this NCAA Tournament. Can’t be giving the Wildcats this many points, folks.
Villanova-Kansas Under 133
Though the point spread seems to be providing a little too much leeway in favor of the Wildcats, Villanova’s defensive intensity is not being ignored by the sportsbooks when it comes to the total. You might typically expect a game involving Kansas’ quicker pace and elite offensive efficiency to be projected for more points than a total of 133. But that’s the Villanova effect, as its win over Houston in the Elite Eight resulted in just 94 total points.
Kansas, obviously, will look to force a faster tempo than Houston was worried about playing; the Cougars were more similar to the Wildcats, who have the 14th-slowest adjusted tempo in all of college basketball this season. Kansas ranks just outside the top 60 in that category, but we’ve seen Villanova’s crisp style of play and measured pace have an impact before. It shouldn’t be surprising to see the Wildcats take command in that regard on Saturday.
A final score with both teams in the low-to-mid 60s truly seems plausible here. Also, consider the stadium environment at the absolutely massive Caesars Superdome. We’ve seen those playing surfaces and baskets result in whacky scoring conditions in the past. Villanova may not even need any help from bouncy rims to keep this one Under the total.
Bacot Under 12.5 rebounds (+100)
Bacot is an exceptional rebounder. However, as described above, he just hasn’t been on that same level this season in games against Duke. This is a perfect example of recent performances inflating an attractive wager.
I just can’t support the Over in what looks to be a bad matchup for Bacot on the boards.
Where to Bet on the Final Four
Here are our top-rated sportsbooks:
Final Four odds and best bets made 4/1/2022 at 1:54 p.m. ET.