NCAA Basketball Betting Stats And Trends Breakdown For Final Four

Kevin Stott

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 4:00 PM UTC

Tuesday, Mar. 29, 2016 4:00 PM UTC

Breaking down the NCAAB Tournament Odds and Analyzing the Final Four to find the betting value this upcoming weekend.

NCAA Tournament Winner
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The players got the best of the Sportsbooks in the Sweet Sixteen round of the NCAA Basketball Tournament on Thursday and Friday but then the Sportsbooks got the best of the Players in the Elite Eight round on Saturday and Sunday so maybe it’s time for the players to win again? Even though overall handle action should drop due to the sheer (less) volume of games left in the Big Dance and for fans who only bet when their team (school) is alive and still playing, there will still be plenty of action with a live #10-seed underdog (Syracuse) still barking and North Carolina on showcase as the prohibitive favorite from this point on. Let’s look at some fresh, homemade numbers, theorize about what might happen and make NCAA Tournament picks on the two Final Four games on Saturday from NRG Stadium in Houston which will each have their own distinct storylines.


Some Trends Are Better Than Others & Trying to Play Hoops in a Building Built For Football
Applying Trends from past Final Fours (and using Regions or Specific Seed) seems like a grand waste of time when compared to using Trends from these actual teams with these current Rosters in this current calendar year unless you’re talking about talking about a certain venue or unique game—like an All-Star Game—and its proclivities to have Unders or Overs exhibited over a decent enough sample size. And NRG Stadium in Houston may be a perfect example with the venue built for (American) Football and the Houston Texans and trying to make it into an occasional Basketball arena with awful sightlines for the players difficult with such large spaces behind each baskets and neither team accustomed to playing at this particular site meaning everyone on the court feels uncomfortable, including fans trying to watch from the upper balcony when Brice Johnson looks like an Ant and Lord only knows who has the basketball. Many say big games (in all sports) should point potential bettors to the Under in the first place with scoring much harder when the best is playing the best and when Defense is a priority as not letting the other guy score is, or always should be, the main objective is Sports. A great High School coach of mine named Jim Wendt once preached this philosophy to our Summer League Baseball team and we went on to win the Illinois State High School Summer League baseball title by doing just that, defeating Maine East in the Championship Game, 2-1, at the old Comiskey Park where none other than former Chicago White Sox owner and MLB promotion-man Bill Veeck opened the Ballpark’s doors and let us in. This is not Gonzo journalism, Bubba. The point here is that Defense is what gets a team like the Denver Broncos to the Super Bowl and a team like the Kansas City Royals to the World Series and the one team left of this Final Four that plays the best Defense will be the one who probably ends up winning the NCAA Championship and likely, its backers some money over their last two games on Saturday and Monday. Defense wins championships, but Defense also wins money and the numbers I’ve digested so far are telling me some things. So let’s look at the Trends and other pertinent stuff that should matter for each team, heading into Saturday’s Final Four and see what the numbers are saying from a group which has collectively W23 in a row SU (Straight Up) and W14 straight combined ATS (Against The Spread). So, something’s gotta give...unless both games end up Pushing the number that is.

In the 2008 South Regional played at the then-called Reliant Stadium—now NRG Stadium and the site of this Final Four—the three games saw Memphis beating Michigan State 92-74 in the first Regional Semifinal (Over, 135), Texas clobbering Stanford, 82-62 in the second Semifinal game (Over, 133½) with Memphis beating Texas in the South Regional Finals, 85-67 (Over, 143). So, three games at Reliant Stadium and three fairly easy Overs to begin with. Then the L3 College Basketball games (before this year) played at (the newly named) NRG Stadium were played in the 2011 Final Four where Connecticut beat Kentucky 56-55 in the first Semifinal (Under, 138½) followed by Cinderella Butler ousting fellow Cinderella VCU in the other Semifinal, 70-62 (Over, 131½). And in the Championship Game, Connecticut defeated Butler, 53-41 (Under, 131½) in an extremely low-scoring title tilt at Reliant which would even be low-scoring for a Golden State Warriors Halftime scoreline. So, those 3 games in this building saw two Unders and one Over, and just barely Over by ½ point. And last year in the 2015 South Regional Semifinals played at NRG Stadium in Houston, Duke beat Utah 63-57 in the first Semifinal (Under 144½) then Gonzaga beat UCLA 74-62 in the second Semifinal (Under, 144) while in the 2015 South Region Final at the venue last year, Duke defeated Gonzaga 66-52 (Under, 144½). So the L3 games in this particular building last year all went Under. So it appears the 9 NCAA Basketball games played here in this Lone Star State venue built for Football have seen a 5-4 ATS mark to the Under, with the Under being just ½ point away from W6 in a row after L3 (Over) to begin with back in the 2008 South Regional Semifinals and Final.


Villanova vs. Oklahoma
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Oklahoma Sooners
The Oklahoma Sooners and Buddy Hield (+400 to win Most Outstanding Player) actually have the worst ATS record of the four remaining teams in the Big Dance (14-20-0 ATS, 41.1%) and Head Coach Lon Kruger and this Big 12 giant have L7 of 9 ATS, although Oklahoma has covered its last 2 games (Texas A&M, Oregon). Jordan Woodard (+4000 to win Most Outstanding Player) have W4 in a row SU with their last Loss coming to West Virginia in the Big 12 Conference Tournament Semifinals on March 11 but NCAA Tournament wins over Cal-State Bakersfield, VCU, Texas A&M and Oregon just isn’t as tough a row to hoe as some others. Oklahoma (+375 to win NCAA Championship, William Hill) is 5-4-1 in the Rebounding fight over its L10 and the Sooners (15-10 O/U) have been a very strong Under team of late with the Under 10-2 in the L12 Oklahoma games and hitting 2 straight. Toss in that NRG Stadium sightline and familiarity reality, and the Under seems worth a look here. Isaiah Cousins (+4000 to win Most Outstanding Player, William Hill) and the Sooners are 4-13 ATS in their L17 Saturday games but that’s a byproduct of playing in the rugged Big 12 where a weekend game in Ames or Lubbock or Lawrence for an opponent is almost like a little guaranteed slice of Hell. The early report from the Sportsbooks is that both the Sharps and the General Public have been all over Villanova (Consensus Open: Villanova -1½) in this game, sending the line to 2 and 2½ in some places. And what sticks out the most from all of this? That Ryan Spangler (9.2 rpg) and Oklahoma (#5 Ken Pomeroy Ranking, #6 RPI) haven’t exhibited that much of a distinct Rebounding Edge over their L10 games—a mix of Big 12 Regular Season, Big 12 Conference Tournament play and NCAA Tournament games—and that if Buddy Hield is held in check or is cold from the outside, then that lack of prominence in the paint could be this Sooner team’s ultimate downfall. Possessions equal points and if a team can’t consistently have a rebounding edge in games that really matter and when a team like Cal-State Bakersfield out-rebounds you (31-26) in an NCAA Tourney game—no matter how meaningless—then there may be a weakness and a reason so much money has poured in on Villanova late Sunday and early Monday.


Villanova Wildcats
The Villanova Wildcats (19-17-1 ATS) and Josh Hart (+400 to win Most Outstanding Player, William Hill) are representing the proud new-look Big East Conference in the Final Four and Head Coach Jay Wright and his Wildcats should be proud for getting over that proverbial hump at the Round of 32 which had haunted them for a couple of years. Not now John, we’ve gotta get on with this. Kris Jenkins (+1200 to win Most Outstanding Player, William Hill) and Villanova have W4 in a row SU and also W4 straight ATS with the Wildcats (19-17 O/U) last Loss coming to Seton Hall in the Big East Tournament Championship game on March 12. The Under is 8-1 ATS in the L9 Villanova games against Big 12 opponents but the Over is 10-3 ATS is Villanova’s L13 overall, and 3 of the L5 Wildcats games have gone Under the posted Total. Villanova and Ryan Arcidiacono (+1700 to win Most Outstanding Player) are 6-4 in their L10 in the Rebounding Battle, but this is a team—like its former Big East Conference-mates Syracuse—that can find a way to win even if getting outrebounded.

Head-to-head, these teams have met three previous times with Villanova 2-1 ATS and SU and the Under 2-1 in non-conference Regular Season meetings in December of 2005, 2016 and 2015. In the first meeting in Philadelphia, Villanova (+280 to win NCAA Championship, William Hill) won and covered as 7-point favorites, 85-74, in a game which went way Over the 133 Total. The second meeting saw Villanova (#1 Ken Pomeroy Ranking, #4 RPI) win again as favorites (-2½), but this time in a 67-51 romp that saw the game go Under the 135 Total while in the last meeting, earlier this year in the Pearl Harbor Classic in Honolulu, then #7-ranked Oklahoma beat Villanova, 78-55 as Cousins had 19 points and 10 assists and Hield 18 of his own as the game also went Under (145). Villanova (12-9-1 ATS Road) fared much better Away from home this year ATS than did Oklahoma (8-13-0 ATS Road). The key thing that sticks out here? The strong early action on the Under driving the Total from an opening 149½ down 4 points all the way down to 145½ (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) by Monday afternoon. That’s some serious Under action and the Site and some of these Trends like the Wildcats 8-1 ATS Under mark against the Big 12 may be behind this heavy Totals movement.


Syracuse vs. North Carolina
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Syracuse Orange
The Syracuse Orange (20-15-0 ATS) and Trevor Cooney have no players listed in the Most Outstanding Players marketplaces William Hill, so the NCAA Tournament odds are giving the Orange little chance of even getting to the point on Monday night (CBS, 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PST) to win it all to have an MVP. But this Syracuse (+1400 to win NCAA Championship) team isn’t really a star-driven team like the days of old when Carmelo Anthony roamed the court and Syracuse was still nicknamed the Orangemen. If there is a star, it would be Michael Gbinije (17.6 ppg, 4.4 apg), but guys like gunner Cooney, Tyler Roberson (8.4 rpg), DaJuan Richardson, Tyler Lydon (1.8 bpg) and Malachi Richardson (12.2 ppg) are all equally important in legendary Head Coach Jim Boeheim’s scheme of things at Syracuse and there’s a reason why this gritty team will still be playing College Basketball in April while everyone else but three won’t be. Tootles, chaps. The Orange have W4 in a row SU and Syracuse has W5 straight ATS and is 7-1 ATS in its L8 and the team’s last Loss came to Pittsburgh—of course, for the third time this season—in the ACC Conference Tournament (72-71) on March 9, so the Orange will have gone almost a calendar month without a Loss and it was by just 1 point. But the NCAA Tournament path of Dayton (Round of 64), Middle Tennessee State (Round of 32), Gonzaga (Sweet Sixteen) and Virginia (Elite Eight) was as easy a path to a Final Four as a team can possibly get but the Orange (15-35-2 ATS L52 Saturday games) deserve credit from rallying from behind so many times to get to this crucial and still alive point.

Syracuse (18-17 O/U) games have gone Over the Total 7-3 in the L10 and the Over is 12-4-1 in the L17 Neutral Site games for the Orange, although probably few of those Sites are/were actual football stadiums like NRG Stadium and the Under is 9-4 in the Orange’s L13 Saturday dribbles. Syracuse has only outrebounded 3 of its L10 opponents, but they were three opponents (Dayton, Middle Tennessee State University, Virginia) in the this Big Dance, so, major credit to Syracuse and Otto the Orange for turning it up when they have to. Peel, baby, peel, But this team is smallish and needs to be hot to hang with a bigger athletic team like North Carolina and the potential for a 20-point blowout exists because of this potential Rebounding thing. It’s hard to see ‘Cuse finding a way to out-muscle and out-position the Tar Heels Big Three of Brice Johnson (6-9, 228), Kennedy Meeks (6-9, 265) and Justin Jackson (6-8, 193). But it can be done and if anybody’s going to do it, it will be this motley Syracuse (#22 Ken Pomeroy Ranking, #68 RPI) crew which will rip your Heart out in the L7 minutes of a game if you’re not careful.


North Carolina Tar Heels
Esteemed Head Coach Roy Williams and the North Carolina Tar Heels (19-18-1 ATS) have W9 straight games and are an impressive 7-1 ATS in their L8 overall. But what stands out the most? The fact that North Carolina is 9-1 in the L10 in the Battle of the Boards, with the Powder Blue only getting outrebounded by Virginia in ACC Conference Championship Game (32-28)—a game won by the Tar Heels—and that this historic (remember Michael Jordan?) College Basketball team’s last Loss on the Calendar was to those same Cavaliers in Charlottesville in ACC Regular Season play way back on Feb. 28, meaning that this team has gone over a full calendar month without Losing a basketball game and is really feeling this March Madness thing. And North Carolina (#3 Ken Pomeroy Ranking, #5 RPI) is winning big, by 14, 15, 19 and 16 (points) in the Big Dance, so another double-digit trouncing of a familiar Conference-mate here would suit the Tar Heels just fine. And you? North Carolina and Brice Johnson (+240 to win Most Outstanding Player) are 2-0 SU—but 1-1 ATS—against Syracuse this season, winning 75-70 as 13-point favorites (Under, 146½) in Chapel Hill (Feb. 29) and painting the Orange black with an 84-73 win at Syracuse as 7½-point chalks (Over, 152½) in the first meeting (Jan. 9). North Carolina is 3-2 SU in the 5 lifetime meetings between these new ACC Conference-mates with Syracuse holding a 3-1-1 ATS edge and the Under 3-2 ATS in the 5 meetings, 4 of which have come in ACC Regular Season play and one back in 2009 at Syracuse when the Orange were still members of the Big East. Both teams fared well ATS Away this year with North Carolina at 12-9-1 ATS and Syracuse at 12-7-0 ATS on the Road.

The Over is 3-1 ATS in the L4 North Carolina games and 23-10 in the L33 Neutral Site games played by the Tar Heels but it must be noted again most of those structures were built for Basketball and not for Football like NRG Stadium, the old Reliant Stadium in Houston was. The Under is 13-5 in the L18 games against ACC Conference-mates despite the fact that North Carolina has (barely) been an Over team (20-18 O/U) this season. The big thing here is that potential Rebounding edge and although the Orange outrebounded the Tar Heels at Home in upstate New York (32-20), North Carolina wit Johnson, Meeks and Jackson showed Syracuse what was up on the return leg on Tobacco Road (NC 38-30 Rebounding edge) and the way this team has been using Energy to play Defense and with a pair of dynamite Guards in Marcus Paige (+900 to win Most Outstanding Player) and Joel Berry III (+700 to win Most Outstanding Player), this North Carolina (+110 to win NCAA Championship) is team obviously the team to beat in El Gran Baile (The Big Dance) and the Orange may have to worry about finally getting embarrassed after getting to this historic point as as #10 seed and a team the vast majority of us who believed shouldn’t have even been chosen to be in this sacred NCAA Tournament in the first place. So what do we know?

NCAA Tournament Final Four Pick: North Carolina -9 -110 at Pinnacle
NCAA Tournament Final Four Props Pick:  Brice Johnson, North Carolina +240 to Win Most Outstanding Player 

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