Who will cover on the NCAA Tournament betting lines as we reach the ending point on Saturday with the Final Four? There are three number one seeds, and then a 7th seed coached by Tom Izzo.
Michigan State Spartans vs. Duke Blue Devils (Game in Indianapolis)
Saturday, 6:09 PM ET
This game is one that should be decided on the perimeter, where Duke’s guards – Matt Jones and Tyus Jones in particular – will go up against Travis Trice and Tum Tum Nairn. It’s going to be very interesting to see how Trice will be able to operate on offense against Duke’s defense. Can he get free on screens or use other ways to generate clean looks at three-point shots? As for Nairn, can he be a defensive stopper once again for Michigan State? He’s been the team’s best on-ball defender on the perimeter, while teammate Branden Dawson has been a solid defender in the paint. If Nairn can win his defensive matchup in this game and hold down Duke’s backcourt, we could see a very close game, one in which Michigan State can run its precise set plays late in regulation and get quality shots to push itself past the Blue Devils and into Monday night’s title game. However, Duke has too many guards for Michigan State. If Nairn does win his matchup, that still leaves other Duke guards against Trice and, when Michigan State goes to the bench, backup Bryn Forbes. Duke has more backcourt depth than Michigan State in this game. Then, Michigan State has to be able to withstand Jahlil Okafor, who has played poorly in this tournament of late and is due for a breakout game. That last part about Okafor, held to single-digit scoring totals this past weekend in Houston against Utah and Gonzaga, is something to keep an eye on. If Okafor wakes up, Duke should win this game by around 10 points on Saturday evening and cover the NCAA Tournament odds point spread.
NCAA Tournament Pick: Duke -5 at Pinnacle
Wisconsin Badgers vs. Kentucky Wildcats (Game in Indianapolis)
Saturday, Approx. 8:50 PM ET
This game is the game people have been wanting to see. How will Wisconsin’s offense fare against Kentucky’s defense? One really important point at the outset is that Notre Dame, by playing so well on offense against Kentucky’s defense, has given Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan a lot of things to look at on film. The Badgers have a full week to prepare for this game, and that is something which is likely to work in their favor. Wisconsin is also playing with some extra motivation. The Badgers want revenge after losing to Kentucky in last year’s Final Four. The team wanted Kentucky all season long, and now it has the Wildcats in the game before the national championship round. A lot of things point to Wisconsin playing well.
However, Kentucky got exposed on defense, and still managed to win. The Wildcats were outrebounded, 13-10, on the offensive glass by Notre Dame. They still won. Imagine what Kentucky is going to do in practice this week. The Wildcats are going to be determined to play better on defense. Assuming Kentucky improves, it’s going to be hard for Wisconsin to get what it wants on offense. Take the Wildcats for your NCAA Final Four picks here.
NCAA Tournament Pick: Kentucky -5