There's No Denying Nova Against Kansas in Final Four

nova hoops

Rainman M.

Monday, March 26, 2018 1:03 PM GMT

Monday, Mar. 26, 2018 1:03 PM GMT

Kansas and Villanova, both No. 1 seeds, clash Saturday night in the Final Four semifinals. Nova is favored by five points. Can Kansas "remember the Alamo" and gather enough fight for its backers?

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 1 VillanovaFinal Four, Saturday, Alamodome, San Antonio, 8:49 p.m. ETFree NCAAB Pick: Villanova -5Best Line Offered: Intertops

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Put Villanova in your money-line parlays, bet on them to cover the spread, and count on the Wildcats to beat Kansas. They are the hotter team, the better team and the team with the stronger matchup.

The key for a championship-caliber team is not simply to be the best but to be the best at the right time. Nova (34-4, 25-12-1 ATS) has covered four in a row and seven of its last eight. Nova's achievement is that they are not simply covering spreads on the college basketball odds board, but destroying them, as oddsmakers struggle to account for how good this team really is. In those seven covers, the Wildcats doubled the spread in five of them; in the other two covers they were favored by about 20 points each. Kansas, on the contrary, hasn't impressed against the spread, covering half its tourney games. The Jayhawks (31-7 SU, 20-17 ATS) did defeat Duke as favorites but that was rather a lottery win in which Duke hero Grayson Allen's last-second shot missed two opportunities to roll inside the basket, in which Duke was unusually off from three and in which the balls were bouncing correctly for KU so that the Jayhawks could outrebound the bigger Blue Devils.

Nova has been ridiculous from three throughout the tourney and, with its depth and quality, this isn't flukey. The Wildcats were 30-for-65 (46.1 percent) combined from three against Alabama and West Virginia. Center Omari Spellman, forward Mikal Bridges and point guard Jalen Brunson rank in the top 200 in three-point percentage. Guards Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo rank in the top 400 in the category. Overall, Nova ranks 15th in three-point shooting percentage. Kansas, on the other hand, is not equipped to stop Nova from three. The Jayhawks' opposing three-point percentage looks good but don't be deceived by the low three-point shooting quality of their opponents. They defend the perimeter poorly, ranking 219th in proportion of opposing threes allowed. Nova has so much depth that if one or two guys has an off-day from three, it won't be a problem. With their superior ball movement they will find sundry open looks and hit at least 10 threes against Kansas.

Villanova got its anomalously poor shooting performance out of the way against Texas Tech but still doubled the spread. Nova, unlike Kansas, plays great defense and is primarily for this reason a better overall team. The Wildcats rank 13th in KenPom defensive efficiency and limited Texas Tech's superstar point guard Keenan Evans to 12 points. Kansas loves to shoot the three and has the 80th-highest proportion of threes attempted. Whereas Nova's offensive strength can exploit KU's defensive weakness, KU's offense will deal with Nova's defensive strength. Nova ranks 29th in opposing three-point percentage, ranks a more respectable 115th in opposing proportion of three-point attempts allowed and allows the 241st-lowest point distribution from three. Nova has improved its two-point and half-court defense and block percentage since conference play and will hold its own inside.

So do the math. Nova will essentially gladly exchange threes to give up some twos from Kansas and, if the spread does get close, Nova ranks ninth in free-throw percentage and, as a last resort, can achieve the cover from the free-throw line in our NCAAB picks.

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Check out SBR’s college basketball odds page for updated lines. Also, head over to the March Madness Betting Headquarters for vital handicapping information, picks, and a list of the best sports books and live betting options for the tournament season.

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