Final Four Betting Picks
March Madness Final Four Betting Tips
By Jack Taylor
Over/Under 138 points — No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (-6.5)
Not many people had these two teams going this far. Gonzaga (36-1), despite their top seed and nearly spotless record, were seen as a top seed in a weaker conference. Meanwhile, South Carolina (26-10) wasn't on anyone's radar and have been the NCAA Tournament's Cinderella story. It's the first Final Four trip for both programs.
For the most part, the Bulldogs have cruised through the tournament with wins by 20, 6, 3, and 24 points. However, there has been a small chink in the armour — rebounding. In the Elite Eight, they allowed Xavier to notch 13 offensive boards. The game before that, the Bulldogs surrendered 20 offensive boards. Simply put, those second-chance opportunities can't be allowed if Gonzaga wants to keep dancing.
The Gamecocks have relied on lockdown defense to reach this matchup. During the Elite Eight, they held SEC foe Florida to 41 percent shooting — including 27 percent from beyond the arc. Defense will be their key to winning this game. If South Carolina can dominate the perimeter, they should have no problem beating Gonzaga on the glass.
The issue here is Gonzaga can dominate on the defensive end just as much. During the season, they ranked fourth in the country with opponents netting just 60.9 points per contest. In the same category, South Carolina allowed 64.9 points — good enough for 31st overall. Expect this game to be bowling-shoe ugly with both teams matching each other's defensive intensity.
In the end, we like the Gamecocks to cover the spread. Their path to the Final Four was certainly earned, as they topped their region's No. 2, No. 3, and No. 4 seed. That battle-tested route will keep them close against Gonzaga.
Pick: South Carolina (+6.5)
Over/Under 151.5 points — No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 1 North Carolina (-5)
North Carolina (31-7) is the only team remaining in the NCAA Tournament that were expected to be here all year long. The fact that they've lived up to sky-high expectations — especially after last year's championship game heartbreaker — proves this team is ready for the moment.
But Oregon (33-5) is almost as battle-tested. The Ducks survived two nail-biting games earlier in the tournament, winning by three and one point in those games, all while playing without one of their best players, big man Chris Boucher.
You can't overlook experience in this game. Tar Heels head coach Roy Williams will be coaching in his ninth career Final Four game, while this will be the Ducks' Dana Altman's first. That's a big advantage for North Carolina, especially considering most of this roster are holdovers from last year's national title game run.
Matchup-wise, North Carolina can win this game on the glass. No one has netted more rebounds during the season than the Tar Heels' 1,479 total — 105 more than the next best team. They especially thrive on the offensive end, where they came down with 15.8 boards per game during the season. Those second-chance opportunities could very well be the difference maker here.
This is where Boucher's absence really hurts Oregon. The 6-foot-10 forward was averaging 11 points, six rebounds, and two blocks per game before tearing his ACL in the Pac-12 tournament.
Yes, the Ducks have rumbled through March Madness without him, but this matchup doesn't favor them. Oregon's previous NCAA Tournament foes were small-ball teams like themselves. Well, North Carolina is not like those teams. The Tar Heels have size all over the lineup and they will lean on that to cover the spread in this one.
Pick: North Carolina (-5)
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