2017 NCAA Championship Betting Prediction

Posted by Peter Boysen on March 27, 2017 in

This year, March Madness has truly lived up to its name, as many of the favorites — overall top seed Villanova, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Florida, Arizona, Louisville and UCLA are gone — and some of them have been gone for a couple of weeks. Gonzaga, South Carolina, North Carolina and Oregon remain, promising an exciting weekend of basketball as we reduce the field from four all the way down to one champion. After you review our prediction, don’t forget to check out our betting lines for all the major sports action this week.

NCAA Championship Betting Prediction

South Carolina

Of the four teams remaining in the NCAA tournament, South Carolina faces the longest odds from Vegas. If they were facing North Carolina in the semifinal instead of the final, I might pick against them simply because of the combination of sitting on college basketball’s most gloried stage with a program that’s been there so many times.

In the semifinal, though, South Carolina gets Gonzaga — another team making its Final Four debut. South Carolina has already beaten teams with a wide variety of pedigrees. In the first round, they took down a Marquette team that had a high-flying offense, and then they faced Duke in the second round, a team that had run to an ACC tournament title in historic fashion. They demolished Baylor by twenty in the third round, and then they held off a Florida team that was their first opponent to feature an elite defense. The Gamecocks showed that they had a defense that was even tougher than Florida’s.

So they enter their semifinal with Gonzaga as 6.5-point underdogs. If you’ve been following my previews for this tournament, you know that I’ve been wrong a lot — and I’m not alone. But I’ve liked South Carolina the whole way, and it’s because of this commitment to stopping the opposition’s offense. Their defense ranks #2 in the nation in adjusted efficiency, and Gonzaga has not played a team that rotates that well.

Gonzaga does have a solid defense of their own — in fact, they have the top defense in the nation in adjusted efficiency. However, Gonzaga was red-hot from downtown in their win over Xavier in the Elite Eight, and they’re not likely to go 12 for 24 against South Carolina, with hands in their faces. Gonzaga got by the “Press Virginia” defense which turned into a three-point win. South Carolina has bigger wins in the tournament so far — against better competition — since they came in as a seven-seed.

And then? What happens if they get by Gonzaga and face either UNC or Oregon? Well, they would either face a Tar Heel team that Duke beat twice this year, or they would face an Oregon team that runs the same sort of video-game offense that South Carolina has already beaten twice in this tournament. That’s why I am picking South Carolina to win the title, riding that momentum to two more huge wins.