Teddy and Pauly have been talking Final Four all week, but Friday’s SportBIT puts the two games on Saturday under the microscope in the Big Game Breakdown section of the show.
On Thursday, Teddy and Pauly took a Deep Dive into the venue: NRG Stadium in Houston (formerly Reliant Stadium) home of the Houston Texans. When basketball gets played in football venues, the sight lines for shooters are rarely good, and this stadium has seen Unders rule the roost.
The last three NCAA Tournament sets played at this venue have been remarkably consistent when it comes to the posted totals. The 2015 South Regional, 2011 Final Four and 2010 South Regional were all played on this floor in Houston. In nine games over those three weekends, we’ve seen exactly one Over cash, along with seven Unders and one push/half point Over win depending on the number.
The 2011 Final Four (UConn beating Butler in the Final) was as ugly as it gets from an offensive standpoint, with the two Huskies games both staying at least 30 points Under. Last year’s three games here produced three Unders, by an average of more than 15 points per contest. There’s a reason that both Final Four totals this year have taken Under money, especially the Oklahoma – Villanova total, bet down from as high as 150 down to the 144.5/145 range as of Friday morning.
Buddy Hield has clearly been the best player in this tournament, and the lone collegiate superstar still standing. But all of Hield’s success came from hot shooting, especially last weekend. His other stats as the Sooners beat Texas A&M and Oregon weren’t pretty: 11 turnovers, 3 assists and 0 steals. If any other point guard put up those stats, he’d be getting ripped by the media, but the mainstream narrative here is all about the Buddy factor. It’s worth noting that the wiseguys are the ones who bet Villanova up from -1 to -2 earlier in the week.
Don’t be fooled by the final scores when Syracuse and North Carolina battled in two earlier meetings. The Tar Heels won one game by 11, the other by 5. But both of those contests were one possession games with less than three minutes remaining on the clock, before the Tar Heels gained some separation. That being said, Syracuse’s biggest weakness – defensive rebounding – plays right into North Carolina’s biggest strength – offensive rebounding. If the Orange are going to hang tough again, they’ll need another big game from Malachi Richardson. It’s worth noting there that Richardson has shot 25% from two point range in this tournament, a drop-off from his 36% shooting during the regular season.