And then there were Four
In case you’ve been living under a rock, or you can’t be bothered with keeping up with Sportsball, the Final Four is set. #11 seed Loyola Chicago will play #3 seed Michigan in the first game on Saturday, and #1 see Villanova will take on fellow #1 seed Kansas in the nightcap. Let’s take a look at the betting lines and the early movement to see if we can garner info on which way Vegas is leaning.
Will the Wolverines rumble over the Ramblers?
Just as the Seminoles were putting the finishing touches on their point shaving debacle in their game against Michigan, the opening line came out as Wolverines (-6) vs the Ramblers for the first Final Four game. Sharps quickly hit the line heavily and drove it down to (-5), where it currently sits. The thinking is Loyola Chicago is a veteran laden team with good guard play from Clayton Custer & Donte Ingram, coupled with being a well balanced offensive team (5 guys avg double digits scoring). Throw in they’re a tough-nosed defensive team (18th in the country in Adjusted Defense) and even (-5) might be a bit high. We’ll monitor the action late in the week.
Fun stat: Loyola allowed 62 points in 3 of their 4 games played in the tournament (68 in the other game). On the year, their defense allowed…62 points/gm. If nothing else, they’re consistent.
Hey, look everyone! It’s two #1 seeds that actually won some games!
In a tournament that will long be remembered how one half of the bracket was ravaged by upsets, including #16 UMBC’s historical upset of #1 Virginia, the other side of the bracket was pretty normal by the time they got to the Elite Eight. The favorite to cut down the nets, Villanova, handled their game with Texas Tech pretty easily. Meanwhile, as Duke’s Grayson Allen was going up for the potential game winner against Kansas, Duke fans were like:
However, Kansas fans, along with the rest of the country (because it was Duke), were like:But after it rimmed out and Kansas took control in OT, we had a GREAT match-up in the Final Four between the Wildcats and Jayhawks. The line opened at Nova (-5) and has stayed steady. That may seem a bit high on the surface, but here’s a hidden nugget from our award-winning* coverage: this is the worst Jayhawk defense ever to take the floor under Bill Self. They are 42nd in Adjusted Defense, by far his worst ranked Kansas team ever. They have been in the Top 10 eleven times under Self, never finishing worse than 24th. That is the reason for the initial gap. If the public starts pounding the underdog and the line doesn’t move, then Vegas/wise guys have tipped their hands, and you’ll know that they really like Nova.
Fun stat: The Wildcats have hit 436 3-pointers this season. That’s only 7 short of the NCAA record. Kansas’ defense allows 32.7% 3pt FG%.
Odds to cut down the nets
Nova is the overwhelming favorite to win it all right now, coming in at almost even money:
- Villanova +104
- Michigan +270
- Kansas +340
- Loyola Chi +1125
Kansas would have to be the value play there because if they got past Nova, they would be favored against both Michigan & Loyola, and you would have the opportunity to hedge. And remember Rule #2 in betting: ALWAYS hedge.