NCAA Basketball Pick on National Championship Game Total

LT Profits Sports Group

Monday, April 6, 2015 2:13 PM UTC

Monday, Apr. 6, 2015 2:13 PM UTC

Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out a total that simply does not add up and therefore offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Monday.


The NCAA Tournament Championship Game is a battle of one-seeds this season when the Wisconsin Badgers (36-3, 21-2 away/neutral), fresh off of upsetting top ranked and previously undefeated Kentucky, take on the Duke Blue Devils (34-4, 19-3 away/neutral) at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN at 9:18 ET in a game televised nationally on CBS.

The posted total at Pinnacle Sports is 139 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -104.

Regular Season Rematch
We have already given our thoughts on our predicted winning side for this contest, which is a rematch of a regular season game where Duke handed Wisconsin its only home loss of the season 80-70 in Madison during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge way back in December, and we now shift our focus to the total.

These teams have had differing outcomes in regards to totals throughout this NCAA Tournament, as the ‘over’ has gone 4-1 in the five Wisconsin wins so far while the ‘under’ was the winning NCAA Basketball pick in the first four Duke tournament wins before the Blue Devils final went ‘over’ in their 81-61 rout of seventh seeded Michigan State in the Final Four Saturday as the teams erupted for 81 second-half points in a game that was at 61 at halftime.

Where Did This Duke Defense Come From?
The main reason that Duke had been going ‘under’ with regularity before Saturday is because the Blue Devils are playing the best defense they have played all year during this tournament. And in fact, that did not change while going ‘over’ vs. the Spartans as they held Michigan State to 61 points on 22-of-55, 40.0 percent shooting while forcing 14 turnovers.

The Duke defense been so good during this tournament that the performance vs. MSU actually raised the Blue Devils’ points against to 55.0 per game and their field goal percentage allowed to 37.4 percent for the tournament! This from a team that still ranks only 70th in the country in effective field goal percentage allowed at 46.5 percent, although Duke is an excellent 12th in defensive efficiency, so they may have been underrated on that end entering the tournament.

Granted, we do not expect Wisconsin to be held to 40 percent shooting here, but we still expect the Blue Devils to play well enough defensively again for the Badgers not to run up the score. And they did hold Wisconsin to 40.7 percent shooting in the regular season win.

Suspect Defensive Numbers for Badgers, But…
Conversely the Badgers are allowing 70.2 points per game during this tournament, an average that sat at 71.8 points before beating Kentucky 71-64, and they are ranked just 55th in the country in defensive efficiency and 105th in effective field goal percentage allowed. However, keep in mind that fast-paced games vs. North Carolina, Arizona and Oregon contributed to the high points-against totals in this tournament.

The Kentucky game had a slower pace of just 58 possessions, and the result was just 64 points allowed despite the Wildcats shooting 48.1 percent. And while the Badgers are now facing a Duke team renowned for its offense, the fact is that the Blue Devils are only 114th in the country in tempo rating, so Duke scores points by hitting shots and not because of forcing the pace.

In fact the Blue Devils shot a mind-boggling 65.2 percent (30-for-46) in the 80-70 win over Wisconsin in December, a shooting performance that almost certainly will not be repeated here. Perhaps the bigger takeaway from that game was that Duke had only 46 field goal attempts, and the Badgers would love a similar pace to this game.

And Wisconsin can certainly control that pace offensively as it ranks 345th in the country in tempo rating, meaning that only six teams in the entire nation play at a slower pace than the Badgers.

Strong ‘under’ Trends for Duke
Finally, for all of you trend-lovers, consider that the ‘under’ is still 6-1 in Duke’s last seven games overall, 9-3 in its last 12 games vs. the Big Ten and 19-7 in its last 26 neutral site games.

With this total set just a tick shy of 140 points look for that ‘under’ pattern to continue when Duke takes on Wisconsin for the NCAA National Championship on Monday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Wisconsin, Duke ‘under’ 139 (-104)

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