NCAAB Picks: Final Four Predictions As Tournament Comes To An End

Willie Bee

Monday, March 28, 2016 1:22 PM GMT

The NCAA Tournament reaches its final three games this weekend in Houston, and we're taking a look at the Final Four with free college basketball picks for the semifinals.

If you had been stranded on some deserted island for the last year and rescued this morning, the Final Four in this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament might not strike you as odd. After all, each of the four schools hase a pretty good track record on the hardwood. Perhaps one team that would look a little odd would be the Oklahoma Sooners, but you'd remember Buddy Hield was on that roster and had earned Big 12 Player of the Year honors about the time of your shipwreck a year ago. Maybe Villanova's inclusion would jump out at you after the Wildcats had suffered early-round disappointments at a couple of previous Big Dances.

Certainly the North Carolina Tar Heels and Syracuse Orange wouldn't look strange in the group since their two coaches, Roy Williams and Jim Boeheim, are living legends. Then, you'd start to read a little more about how the last foursome reached this point, and one of the teams would suddenly fit the definition of a Cinderella story by beating the NCAA tournament odds to reach this point.

 

'Cuse Hopes 3rd Time's The Charm Vs. UNC
Okay, so maybe Syracuse isn't a true Cinderella story in the sense of Hickory High from the movie Hoosiers or even as the first No. 10 seed to reach the Final Four. Three 11-seeds (LSU 1986, George Mason 2006, VCU 2011) have made it this far, only to each bow out in the semifinals of each event. The Orange do, however, compare favorably with that 2011 VCU team that many didn't even feel should've have been invited to be part of the First Four, or play-in, process. I was among those this year who thought Syracuse should have only been included in the Madness via that route.

There are a lot of similarities between Boeheim's bunch and the 1983 North Carolina State Wolfpack. It starts with both coming out of the ACC, though NC State was a No. 6 seed in the West Region compared with Syracuse's draw in the Midwest. The Wolfpack also had to face an ACC rival that year, No. 1 seed Virginia, in the Final Four just as the Orange will take on conference rival UNC this time.

North Carolina State went on to overcome some pretty lofty odds in the Championship Game by beating then-top ranked Houston. Syracuse will have to do the same this Saturday in Houston, early spreads being released at Bookmaker showing the Tar Heels to be 9 point favorites. North Carolina won both regular season encounters, the Orange covering a 12½ point spread in the 75-70 loss at Chapel Hill. I'm taking the points for my free NCAA tournament picks.

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Free NCAA Tournament Pick: Syracuse +9 (-105)
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

 

Can 'Nova Stop OU's Hield?
The all-ACC clash will be preceded on Saturday by battle between Oklahoma and Villanova, a couple of No. 2 seeds out of the South and West regions who each spent some time ranked No. 1 in the nation previously this season. Sports books have pegged this one to be a much closer contest with the Wildcats giving up 2-2½ after it officially opened at -1. The total has gone the other direction since it first appeared, shrinking from 150 to 146½.

Hield is going to get the lion's share of the press leading into the game, and why not? The senior guard was second in the nation during the regular season averaging 25 PPG, and he poured in 37 this past Saturday in OU's 80-68 triumph over West No. 1 Oregon. His stat sheet for the tournament includes hitting almost 57% of his field goals and sinking 19-of-40 from beyond the arc. Hield won't be able to do it by himself against Villanova's balanced group led by seniors Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu. I'm on the Wildcats as small chalk against the Sooners.

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Free NCAA Tournament Pick: Villanova -2 (-112)
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle