Final Four Betting Guide
And Then There Were Four
Two teams topped the rankings the entire season and would have been deemed failures had they not made the Final Four. The other two teams; no one thought would make it this far. This is the beauty of college basketball.
Each year, history is made. This year’s Final Four is anything but short of historic stories. UCLA is the second team to play in the First Four round & make the Final Four & the Bruins are the winningest program in Men’s College Basketball. Houston is back in the Final Four for the first time since 1984, when they had a guy named Hakeem Olajuwon. Baylor hasn’t been to the Final Four since 1950 & Coach Scott Drew has truly resurrected the program from oblivion. The Mark Few led Zags have won 29 out of their 30 games this season by double digits & hope to become the first undefeated team to win it all since Bob Knight’s ‘76 Hoosiers.
Houston Vs Baylor
Houston isn’t anything to sneeze at, but everything they do, Baylor does better. Houston is powered by three strong, defensive guards; Marcus Sasser, Quentin Grimes, and Dejon Jarreau. The Cougars won the AAC Conference Tournament handily & narrowly escaped Rutgers in the Round of 32. After smacking a hot shooting Syracuse team, they also let Oregon State back in the game by allowing the Beavers to shoot 38% from 3. Houston shoots the 3 ball well and has defended it well for most of this season. It needs to control the offensive glass to have a chance against Baylor. The best thing going for the Cougars is that Baylor is 0-4 against top 2 seeds in the tournament.
Baylor is one of the best 3 point shooting teams in the country. They shot 41% over the course of the season and 8/15 against Arkansas in the Elite 8. That’s 2 fewer 3 point makes than their season average of 10. The Bears allow their opponents 33% shooting from 3 this season and held Arkansas to 3/11 from beyond the arc. Baylor has the best defensive backcourt in the country, part of its own three-headed monster. Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, and MaCio Teague are a tremendous trio that commit very few turnovers. Not to mention that Aaron Flagler adds double digit scoring and more ball security down the stretch in crunch time.
Picks: Baylor -5 & the Over at 134.5.
UCLA Vs Gonzaga
UCLA lost 4 out of its last 5 to end the regular season. Clearly, it is a different team now. This game is a tale of two paces. UCLA thrives on offensive execution and stellar defense at a snail’s pace. They edged out a powerhouse Michigan team by 2, holding them to 49 points on 39% shooting. The Bruins held fast against the second half siege of the paint by 7 footer Hunter Dickinson. It stifled a BYU squad that gave the Zags trouble during the season. It clamped down on Alabama’s high-powered offense in OT. Jaime Jaquez provided the shotmaking against Bama when leading scorer Johnny Juzang fouled out. The former John Calipari recruit Juzang has averaged 21.6 points per game during the tournament & carried the load during the upset of Michigan.
Gonzaga has the most weapons out of any team in the country, which is why they still haven’t lost a game this season. Throughout the season, the Zags have played against every team makeup possible. They’ve outgunned Oklahoma, Iowa and Creighton, and have dismantled some of the top defenses in the country in Virginia and USC. Many people, including myself, thought the length of the Mobley brothers would cause trouble for Drew Timme in the post. His IQ and footwork proved superior to the NBA lottery talent. UCLA’s Cody Riley put up 4 points against Dickinson due to foul trouble. Timme isn’t the physical force of Dickinson but he projects to cause similar issues for the Bruins front court.
The Zags’ lottery level talent in Corey Kispert was an AP All-American and hasn’t shot the ball particularly well in the tourney. Andrew Nembardt and Jalen Suggs have shot well and captained the highest octane offense in the country. They must keep the turnovers to a minimum and get out in transition quickly after hitting the defensive glass. Joel Ayayi has been a huge shot maker for the Zags all season and needs to bring his defense to limit the shot making of the Bruins big guns. The Zags have NBA talent, depth and execution to carry them forward, past the defense and slow pace of the Bruins.