March Madness Final Four Over/Under Picks

Posted by Aaron . on March 29, 2016 in

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament welcomed 68 teams, but now only four remain: Syracuse, North Carolina, Villanova and Oklahoma. Syracuse and North Carolina meet in one semifinal as a real confrontation between David and Goliath, as North Carolina entered the tournament with the third-best odds of winning the whole thing, having been the top seed in their region, while Syracuse was lucky even to make it into the tournament. They entered with a 10-seed, but they also finished in 10th place in the regular-season ACC standings. Villanova and Oklahoma meet in the other semifinal, a pair of two-seeds that have surpassed expectations (and overcome some inconsistencies) to be two of the last four teams standing.

So now we consider the over/under picks for each of these games. Interestingly, both of these matchups feature an over-under of 146.5 points. Let’s take a look at the best March Madness online betting pick for each game.

March Madness Final Four Over/Under Picks

Syracuse vs North Carolina

These teams met twice in ACC regular-season play, so let’s start there. UNC won at Syracuse on January 9, 84-73 (157 total points). Brice Johnson posted 16 points and 8 assists for the Tar Heels, while Isaiah Hicks put up 21 points and grabbed 8 boards for Carolina in the win. The teams met in Chapel Hill on February 29, and North Carolina won again, but only by the score of 75-70 (145 total points). This was the Tar Heels’ senior night, but they were unable to dominate Syracuse by as much as they had. In the NCAA tournament, the fewest points that the Tar Heels have scored was 83 in a 16-point win over Florida Gulf Coast; they put up 101 on Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen round.

What about Syracuse? In the NCAA tournament, they haven’t scored more than 75 points, their total in a 75-50 rout of Middle Tennessee State (125 total points). Their four NCAA tournament games have seen point totals of 121 (Dayton), 123 (Gonzaga) and 130 (Virginia). Syracuse is not a team that runs and guns; they are a team that tends to wear you down in the halfcourt offense and then drops back into a 2-3 zone that actually flies out on shooters and rebounds well (when they are working hard), lending a pace that moves toward lower scores. Given that UNC and Syracuse have already finished under 146.5 once this season, and given that Syracuse has that slow grind working so far this year, I would pick the “under” in this matchup.

Villanova vs Oklahoma

So what about the other semifinal? These two teams met in a neutral-site game at Pearl Harbor, and Oklahoma ran all over Villanova, 78-55 (133 total points). I don’t put a lot of stock into neutral-site games, particularly outside conference play — and particularly in a place like Hawaii. There are a lot of distractions before and after the game. So I don’t think that Oklahoma will run roughshod over Villanova again.

In their last seven games (three Big East tournament games and four NCAA tournament games), Villanova has finished over 146.5 points three times: in an 81-67 win over Georgetown, an 87-68 win over Iowa, and a 92-69 punishment of Miami. In their tougher games, though, as against Providence, Seton Hall and Kansas, they have tended to slow things down and grind out wins through the halfcourt. Their 69-67 win over Seton Hall in the Big East championship only yielded 136 points; their comeback win over Kansas only yielded 123 total points.

Given that Oklahoma has a high-octane offense like Kansas, I think that Villanova’s focus will be slowing the game down and forcing that tempo again. When Villanova gets into track meets (such as their 90-83 loss at Xavier), they lose. I don’t see them having trouble slowing down Oklahoma’s offense as long as they can focus on ball control, so I see this game going “under” as well.