All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from 5Dimes at 9:43 am CT on 3/23/2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.
This was not the Elite 8 that most people imagined. Xavier was supposed to live up to their #1 seed label and even if they didn’t, the 2-seeded and defending champion North Carolina Tar Heels would probably emerge out of the West region.
Neither would ultimately deliver. Instead, the Michigan Wolverines and the Florida State Seminoles will duke it out on Saturday for the right to represent the West region in the 2018 Final Four.
Both teams had to work hard to get here, too. Florida State took care of an underrated Missouri team in round one, dispatched the #1 seeded Xavier in round two and trounced a Gonzaga team in round three that made it to the title game a year ago.
Defense has been the name of the game for the Seminoles to this point, who entered as a 9-seed but have quickly turned into a fun cinderella to root for.
Michigan isn’t as shocking as a 3-seed in this region, but their path to this point hasn’t been any easier.
The Wolverines took care of Montana in round one, but needed heroics to get past a feisty Houston squad in round two. Their game in round three with Texas A&M wasn’t at all close (they won by 27), but dismantling the team that beat UNC by 21 isn’t anything to scoff at.
Through it all, both teams have relied on stingy defense and timely offense, but only one can advance to the Final Four.
5Dimes and other college basketball betting sites favor the Wolverines in the early going, but is that the way bettors should lean when making their final wagers for this weekend’s games? Let’s dig a little deeper into this matchup to find out:
Florida State (+4.5)
The only other game to bet on for Saturday’s March Madness action is a literal toss-up between the tourney’s top cinderella (Loyola-Chicago) and Kansas State.
I like this game better, as the Seminoles have a pretty nice point spread to work with, Michigan still offers some value as a -190 straight up bet and Florida State (+175 at Bovada) is an elite value pick as well.
It could be difficult to get on board with the Seminoles, though. Florida State has been impressive during their three-game run, but they entered the tournament with a suspect defense.
Considering they have given up an average of 73 points per game and allowed teams to top 70 points twice in this tourney, I don’t feel amazing about their chances of slowing Michigan down.
That’s compounded by the fact that Michigan looks like the better team in general and has a vastly superior defense. The Wolverines came into March Madness ranking 6th in the nation in scoring defense (63.3 points given up per game).
Michigan’s defensive prowess has not waned in this tournament. John Beilein’s squad held a pretty potent Montana offense (77 points per game) to just 47 points in round one. They did the same in round two, when they dictated the pace and kept a solid Houston team 13 points below their season average.
The Wolverines may have been at their best in the Sweet 16, though, when they outplayed Texas A&M at both ends of the floor.
Florida State has proven they are no slouch and while they were not known for elite defenses stats during the regular season, they’ve really been a problem at that end of the court during the tournament.
Ultimately, bettors need to look at this as two very nasty teams that have the ability to score and are not afraid to get dirty defensively. I think that makes for a very close game and with so much riding on this one, I expect the defense to show up on both sides.
That makes for a low-scoring game, so I love two bets for Saturday; the Under and Florida State to beat this +4.5 point spread. I actually like Michigan to win and advance to the Final Four, but I prefer the value with these other two bets.
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