March Madness Betting Guide: Final Four
The NCAA tournament rolls on with the Final Four beginning at 6:09 pm ET on Saturday.
Filling out a bracket is the main attraction for most sports fans this time of year, but the fun doesn't have to stop there. It's also the perfect opportunity to place some bets at NCAAB odds.
Which games should draw our attention? Let's find out.
Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.
Villanova Wildcats (2) vs. Kansas Jayhawks (1)
Under normal circumstances, you could argue this one is practically a toss-up between two top-10 teams, per KenPom and BartTorvik. Both teams have top-10 adjusted offenses and top-20 adjusted defenses on those sites, and both teams also won their respective conference tournaments with just one loss apiece in their last 10 games.
But with the Villanova Wildcats losing Justin Moore to a torn Achilles in the Elite Eight, they'll be up against it to advance. Not only was Moore their second-leading scorer, averaging 14.8 points per game, but Villanova typically only uses a six-man rotation. Those minutes will have to be distributed amongst the other five and a bench short on minutes.
For that reason, picking the Kansas Jayhawks will probably be a popular pick, but it may be the right one. The Jayhawks are 4.5-point favorites, which isn't a high bar to exceed.
The Wildcats play at a notoriously slow pace -- they're 346th out of 358 teams in adjusted tempo -- so losing a top scorer like Moore is even more crucial for a team that relies so heavily on offensive efficiency.
In contrast, the Jayhawks are more willing to play quickly (67th in adjusted tempo), and while their offense has been hit-or-miss in the tournament, it's one that's shown few weaknesses this season, ranking 30th in effective field goal percentage, 38th in offensive rebounding rate, and 69th in three-point percentage.
If Kansas is firing on all cylinders, Villanova's style of play will have a tough time keeping up.
And let's remember that the Jayhawks also have that stingy defense, which includes allowing the 71st-lowest opposing three-point attempt rate, per Sports-Reference, which will make it less easy for the Wildcats to utilize the three-ball to win.
Overall, there are enough factors going against Villanova to see them pulling this off, and Kansas to cover is the wager to side with.
Additionally, given the Wildcats' predicament, you could also consider betting the under on Villanova's total points (64.5). Even with Moore healthy, they've failed to hit this mark in each of their last two games and four of their last six.
North Carolina Tar Heels (8) vs. Duke Blue Devils (2)
It may not be the most original plotline, but Hollywood couldn't have scripted a more fitting Final Four matchup for Coach K's final campaign, and CBS executives were probably doing cartwheels after lucking into this rivalry game.
Despite the gap in seeding, the Duke Blue Devils are only 4.0-point favorites over the North Carolina Tar Heels, and the ACC rivals split their regular-season series at one apiece.
Predictably, both teams rate well on KenPom and BartTorvik, with Duke ranking as a top-7 squad and UNC coming in at 16th. The Blue Devils are the nation's best adjusted offense, per BartTorvik, but the Tar Heels still boast the 17th-best mark. Their season ranks in adjusted defense are fairly close, too, as North Carolina has the slight edge at 35th compared to 51st for Duke.
But, it's the two teams' recent play on defense that would suggest that backing North Carolina could be the play.
Over their last 10 games, the Tar Heels have gone 9-1 while ranking eighth in adjusted defensive efficiency. This includes their win over Duke in early March, along with tournament victories over Baylor and UCLA -- all top-11 teams on KenPom and BartTorvik.
Meanwhile, the Blue Devils have completely lived off their elite offensive play down the stretch, ranking just 158th in adjusted defense over their last 10. While it hasn't come back to bite them in the tournament so far, they've yet to face a top-30 adjusted offense in their run to the Final Four.
Consider taking UNC and the points -- and perhaps even the North Carolina moneyline (+162) for a bigger potential return.
If you're not convinced that the Tar Heels can contain Duke's offense, you can also think about betting over 151.0 total points. Both offenses are firing on all cylinders in the tournament, and these teams combined for 154 and 175 points in their previous two games this season.