March Madness Final Four Score Predictions

Posted by Aaron . on March 29, 2016 in

Now that we are down to four teams remaining in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, it’s likely that your bracket is in tatters. You might have picked Oklahoma or Villanova to make it to the Final Four, but I doubt you picked both of them. A lot of people picked North Carolina, but only a paltry few picked Syracuse to make it this far. After all, they didn’t even win one game in the ACC tournament, falling early on to Pitt and relying on the vagaries of the tournament selection committee even to avoid landing in the NIT. So now we have Villanova and Oklahoma squaring off in one semifinal and Syracuse meeting North Carolina in the other. Let’s take a look at some score NCAAB betting predictions for each of these games. North Carolina is favored by 9 to beat Syracuse, while Villanova is favored by 2 over the Sooners. The over/under total for both games is 146.5 points.

March Madness Final Four Score Predictions

Villanova vs Oklahoma

Oklahoma features a track-meet offense that averaged more than 80 points per game throughout the regular season, led by Buddy Hield, the top scorer in the NCAA this season. They love to run and gun, swiping rebounds and steals and zipping down the floor to score in transition. Villanova can get into faster games but prefers a style that grinds the opposition down in halfcourt sets. They can score on the fast break after they get a steal, but they don’t push matters when they don’t have numbers.

The two teams met at a Pearl Harbor Day exhibition on December 7, and the Sooners rolled, 78-55. That game is really an outlier for me, for a number of reasons: it’s in Hawaii, it’s not conference play, and it’s right at that time when players are out of school for the semester. So when I look at this matchup, it’s in a completely different context for me — fraught with all sorts of meaning and the only object of the players’ focus.

When Villanova is in a game against a tough opponent, things tend to slow down. Since Villanova was able to choke the life out of the Kansas offense, holding them to 59 points, I think they will do much the same against Oklahoma, which means they will key on Buddy Hield but also use all five players to slow the pace down to the rhythm they like best.

I’m predicting a Villanova win by the score of 70-66.

Syracuse vs North Carolina

This is the third meeting between Syracuse and North Carolina this season, as they both play in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tar Heels took both meetings, winning at Syracuse, 84-73, on January 9, and winning at home, 75-70, on February 29. Syracuse played very inconsistently throughout the season, starting off well but then going into a funk during coach Jim Boeheim’s nine-game suspension. They rebounded after his return, but then they did not play consistent ball during ACC play. When they lost to Pitt in the opening round of the ACC tournament, it seemed quite likely that they would be appearing in the NIT.

North Carolina has been questioned all season long, but they won both the regular season and tournament titles in the ACC this season. They play well in the halfcourt set and in transition. Syracuse will try to slow this game down with their 2-3 zone and with their methodical halfcourt offense, like they have all season when they have been playing well. The fact that the Orange have run off four straight wins after playing such up-and-down ball all season is a testament to coaching and to timing.

I think that North Carolina can win this game, but it will be a fight to the finish, which means a little lower scoring. I’m predicting a North Carolina win by the score of 72-69.

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.