All odds that are referenced in this article were taken from Bovada at 9:53 am CT on 3/28/2018. These odds may have changed since the time of this writing.
My NCAA tourney picks started out slow, but I’ve since nailed my last two games and will be trying to steer bettors into the right direction during the Final Four.
Michigan and Loyola-Chicago look to duke it out on one side of the bracket, but it’s this showdown against two #1 seeds that everyone will be interested in.
I’m sure the Wolverines and Ramblers are going to put up a fight one way or the other, but this game is more likely than not producing this year’s national champion.
The big question, of course, is which team is more likely to advance to the NCAA title game?
That is not an easy call at first glance. Vegas loves Villanova (-5 favorites at 5Dimes), but this spread really isn’t that rich. Kansas is a fellow #1 seed and comes in with an elite 30-7 record.
The Jayhawks didn’t face a trying road to get to this point, but they did fend off a pesky Clemson team and outlasted a very good Duke squad in overtime.
Their path through the Midwest region wasn’t daunting on paper, but it still put their elite offense to the test.
Villanova put in far less work to get here. The Wildcats won every single game so far by double digits and most of them came with relative ease. They weren’t tested, but I’m not sure bettors should clown them for crushing teams, either.
That’s all thanks to a better than advertised defense and the nation’s #1 scoring offense.
Bettors are tasked with figuring out of Villanova is going to just roll into the title game or actually get a fight from Kansas, though. Let’s see which side of that bet you may want to take:
Kansas Jayhawks (+5)
Villanova Wildcats (-5)
I think every betting angle is viable here. The only thing I’m not enamored with is taking either of these teams straight up. Villanova (-225) offers very little value and I just don’t think Kansas (+215 at 5Dimes) is going to win.
That is not a bad price for a #1 seed that absolutely has the coaching, talent and experience to pull off the upset, of course. Instead of biting down hard on the upset, though, I’d be more inclined to just roll with the Jayhawks against the spread.
Kansas has been a decent 20-16 ATS this year and their recent form suggests they’ll be up for a tough showdown. The fact that they edged out Duke puts Kansas in play to beat this spread, as the Blue Devils were about as dynamic of an offense as Villanova.
The Jayhawks are not going to be an easy out for Villanova. Kansas isn’t quite up to the Wildcats’ level in terms of offense, but as the 23rd best offense in the nation, they’re really not that far off.
Kansas can put up points with the best of them and proved that in the tourney, topping 80+ points in three of their four games and 76+ in each contest. The Jayhawks are explosive from the outside (9th in three-point %) and are extremely balanced. Offensively, they absolutely can contend with the Wildcats.
The big problem here is I don’t really see how Kansas slows down Villanova enough to get the win. The Wildcats have been one of the most consistent teams all year and they’ve obviously been very dominant in this tournament.
I trust Jay Wright a bit more going into this matchup, too, while it’s tough to forget the fact that the Wildcats won a title just three seasons ago now.
There is a mild gap between these two teams and it comes down to depth and defense. Villanova is slightly better defensively and they have superior depth.
The play for Kansas will be shooting the lights out early and playing with a lead. If they can do that, it’s possible they stage the upset and either way, I really like their chances to keep this a close and exciting contest.
While I love Villanova here, the two bets that interest me the most are Kansas (+5) and the Over. I expect this to be a very explosive game. Neither of these teams are necessarily elite defensively and both ranked inside the top-15 in outside shooting.
Expect a past-faced game with a lot of points. That has me doubling down here. I’ll take Kansas to beat the spread and these two teams to combine for a really explosive game that hits the Over.
Villanova really hasn’t been tested yet. Before they trounce whoever they end up facing in the title game, I think they get one good fight from a good Jayhawks team.
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