2019 NCAAM Final Four and Championship Betting Preview
With only 4 teams left in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it’s definitely been an exciting journey getting to this point. At the beginning of the Sweet 16, we had a very chalk heavy group with the top 3 ranked teams in each region still alive. It was the first time that ever happened in the history of this prestigious tournament. But, between the Sweet 16 and the Elite 8, most of the top seeds were bounced and we are now left with an improbable Final 4 group. In fact, ESPN reported that less than 1% of their NCAA basketball tournament brackets had this exact grouping.
With that said, let’s examine the Final 4 betting odds, the two games themselves, and take a look at the NCAAM Championship odds according to the best college basketball betting sites.
2019 Final Four Teams
Both of the Final Four basketball games take place on Saturday, April 6th. Before we take a look at the matchups and make predictions, let’s examine how each team got here:
Virginia Cavaliers Recap
Virginia (33-3) entered the tournament as the #1 seed in the South Region. However, the first two weeks of the tournament weren’t easy for the Cavaliers at all. They had an early scare against #16 Gardner-Webb and many people thought they were going to lose in the first round for the second straight year. However, Virginia was able to pull away in the second half. They also beat #9 Oklahoma by double digits before two very tight ball games. The Cavaliers beat #12 Oregon in the Sweet 16 by a score of 53 to 49 and had to go into OT to beat #3 Purdue 80 to 75 in the Elite 8.
Auburn Tigers Recap
The Tigers (30-9) were the 5th seed in the Midwest Region and not expected to even make it to the Sweet 16. They barely beat #12 New Mexico in the first round as they won 78-77. New Mexico was a trendy pick to upset the Tigers.
Auburn then pulled off three straight upsets including two of the biggest shockers in the tournament.
In the 2nd round, Auburn defeated #4 Kansas by 14 points. But, it was there wins over #1 North Carolina by 17 in the Sweet 16 and a 6-point OT win over #2 Kentucky in the Elite 8 that really turned the tournament upside down. Two of college basketball’s powerhouses were taken out by the Tigers who are playing great defensive basketball.
Texas Tech Recap
Almost as big of a surprise as Auburn, the #3 ranked seed in the West has definitely stunned a lot of fans, teams and pundits. Texas Tech defeated their first 3 opponents by an average score of 18 ppg. It started with a 15-point win in the opening round against #14 Northern Kentucky and then a complete domination over #6 Buffalo in the Round of 32 by a score of 78 to 58.
However, it was the Red Raiders’ 19 point win over #3 Michigan and 6-point win over #1 Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 that really solidified this team as a championship contender. Texas Tech has played great defense and looks to continue that trend in the Final 4.
Michigan State Recap
Of the remaining teams, Michigan State (32-6) is the most experienced program in the Big Dance. Ranked #2 in the East, the Spartans rolled over their first three opponents by an average win margin of 16 ppg. They defeated #15 Bradley, #10 Minnesota, and #3 LSU over that span.
The biggest accomplishment so far, was the Spartans’ win over #1 Duke by a score of 68-67. The Blue Devils were a heavy favorite to win the tournament and the #1 overall seed. The Spartans pulled off an upset win that puts them one step closer to a championship.
Final Four Games and Betting Odds
Now that we’ve set the table for the Final 4 teams, let’s examine the matchups and make our predictions for who will advance the championship game on April 8th. All betting odds are courtesy of BetOnline:
#5 Auburn Tigers (30-9) vs #1 Virginia Cavaliers (33-3)
|Auburn Tigers||+5.5 (-115)||+202||Over 130.5 (-110)|
|Virginia Cavaliers||-5.5 (-105)||-242||Under 130.5 (-110)|
This matchup is rather intriguing. It pits the last #1 seed in the tournament against a team that has gone on an improbable run. In fact, you can call Auburn the Cinderella team even though they’re a 5th ranked school in the tournament. But, the reality is that they beat some of NCAAB’s top programs in Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky. Keep in mind, Auburn is in the Final 4 without one of their best players in Okeke who suffered a knee injury against North Carolina.
For Virginia, they’re looking for redemption after becoming the first #1 seed to ever lose to a #16 seed in the history of the tournament. The Cavaliers lost to #16 UMBC last year in the first round. Virginia’s Elite 8 win over Purdue marked the first time under head coach Tony Bennet that the school made the Final 4. With that said, the Cavaliers are one of the top defensive teams in the nation and the tournament.
Auburn’s duo of Brown and Harper combined for 50 points against Kentucky and they will be called on to lead the Tigers once again. However, Virginia will counter this duo with one of the best defensive players in the nation – DeAndre Hunter who also averages 14.9 ppg.
Auburn vs Virginia Basketball Sports Bet: Under 130.5 points (-110)
For the season, Auburn averages 80.1 ppg and 71.3 ppg. However, they both play solid defense with Virginia being the best in the nation. The Cavaliers allow 57.8 ppg and the Tigers allow 75.8 ppg, which is a total of 133.6 ppg. In the tournament, Virginia has allowed only 57.75 ppg.
I don’t expect these two teams to score a ton of points as the Cavaliers will slow the pace down and smother the Tigers offense. Don’t sleep on Auburn’s defense as the Tigers averaged more steals and blocks on the season than Virginia did.
With that said, I believe the smart bet here is on the Under. I don’t see these two squads hitting the 70 point mark in this game. I believe were looking at a 65-60 type of game. I do think that Virginia will win this Final 4 matchup and advance to the championship game.
#3 Texas Tech Red Raiders (30-6) vs #2 Michigan State Spartans (32-6)
|Texas Tech||+2.5 (-110))||+140||Over 132.5 (-110)|
|Michigan State||-2.5 (-110)||-160||Under 132.5 (-110)|
Under coach Tom Izzo, this is the 8th time the Spartans (32-6) have made the Final 4. In the previous 7 trips, Michigan State has gone to the championship game 3 times giving them a 3-4 record in the Final 4. In the title game, the Spartans have gone 1-2 under Izzo.
Last year, the Red Raiders made it all the way to the Elite 8, but lost to eventual champ Villanova. It was only the second year under head coach Beard, who admires Izzo and is a Bobby Knight pupil. Currently, Beard has 105 wins compared to Izzo’s 606 wins.
Texas Tech vs Michigan State Sports Bet: Under 132.5 points (-110)
Both of these teams come into this game playing great defense on the year and in the tournament. Neither team has allowed an opponent to score over 69 points. TTU allowed Gonzaga to hit 69 in the Elite 8. Michigan State allowed Duke to score 67 in the Elite 8.
For the season, TTU allows 57 ppg and MSU allows 61.3 ppg. That’s a combined 118.3 ppg. Offensively, TTU averages 73 ppg and MSU averages 78.6 ppg. Both teams scored near their season average in the tournament. With that said, I believe this will be another game where the two teams play smothering defense and try to hold their opponent to a minimum.
TTU will look to shut down the Big 10 player of the year in Cassius Winston. Winston had a big game against Duke last round as he put up 20 points, 10 assists and 4 steals. The MSU team helped to contain Zion and RJ Barret, which allowed them to move on to the next round.
MSU will look to shut down Jarret Culver who averages 18.9 ppg and 6.4 rebounds on the season. For the tournament, Culver has averaged 21.5 ppg.
I believe both teams will play a physical, ugly game and it will result in a low scoring affair. Look for something along the lines of a final score: 63 to 62 in favor of the Spartans.
NCAAM Championship Betting Odds
According to BetOnline, here are the following betting odds for the NCAAM Championship winner:
- Virginia (+150)
- Michigan State (+200)
- Texas Tech (+400)
- Auburn (+600)
The #1 seeded Cavaliers are the odds on favorite to win the championship. They have a great defense, a solid scoring offense and a top notch player. They’re followed by Michigan State who has the Big 10 player of the year, a solid defense, and the most experience of the bunch. After MSU is Texas Tech who has a great defense also and is an Elite 8 team from last year. Finally, Auburn comes in with the highest odds of winning the championship. They’ve already put together an incredible run. But, will that run continue for two more games?
On the surface, Michigan State and Texas Tech offer solid betting value. I believe both teams have the potential to beat Virginia who should end up defeating Auburn. If you want to bet on a championship winner right now, I would go with Michigan State (+200) and the best coach left in the tournament.
Early Championship Outcomes
- Virginia defeats Michigan State +300
- Michigan State defeats Virginia +350
- Virginia defeats Texas Tech +450
- Michigan State defeats Auburn +600
- Texas Tech defeats Virginia +700
- Texas Tech defeats Auburn +900
- Auburn defeats Texas Tech +1000
- Auburn defeats Michigan State +1200
Betting Favorites Outcomes
As indicated above, I believe that Michigan State and Virginia will win their Final 4 games. So, that leaves us with the top two options for possible outcomes:
- Virginia defeats Michigan State (+300)
- Michigan State defeats Virginia (+350)
Of these two options, I believe Michigan State has the defense to match Virginia, a top prospect to lead the team, and the coaching advantage.
Best Betting Value for Outcomes
If somehow the Texas Tech Red Raiders upset Michigan State then they will be in for a dog fight with Virginia. With that said, I believe Virginia would beat them. That makes the following option my pick for best betting value:
Top Longshot Outcome
I believe that Michigan State will beat Texas Tech and play in the finals against Virginia. However, Auburn has already knocked off several college powerhouses on their way to the Final 4. If they can get past Virginia then the Cinderella team could possibly upset Michigan State. That makes the last option in this prop bet the best longshot pick:
Who Will Win The 2019 NCAAM Basketball Tournament?
Out of the remaining teams, I believe Michigan State has the best chance at winning the tournament. The Spartans have the Big 10 conference’s best player and the best coach left in the tournament. Additionally, they have experience in the Final 4 and Coach Izzo knows how to prepare his team for the finals. The Spartans just defeated Duke who was the best team in the country. Now, they play a rugged Texas Tech team that can be a mirror image of MSU’s style of play.
With that said, I believe MSU will beat Texas Tech and then defeat Virginia in the championship game. Take MSU’s betting odds of +200 for winning the title and take the betting option of Michigan State defeating Virginia at +350 odds.