Trend: Final Four, April 1
We are entering the final weekend of March Madness so this is really the last weekend to blow some big time cash in the postseason for a while. This Final Four group is not what we expected with UCLA and Houston getting in. UCLA is playing Cinderella after so many years of mediocrity after falling from the top of the college basketball ranks.
In this trend, we are going to break down certain ways you should be both the total and the spread based on past Final Fours and how each of these teams have been playing in this year’s tournament. After all the crazy shit we have seen in this tournament, it is likely that something goes totally off the walls so I’m also throwing out one absolutely ridiculous bet that you should throw very little cash on but maybe get rich with me along the way.
Let’s first take a look at the total. For whatever reason, the UNDER has been cruising in the last two rounds. Over the last 12 games of the tournament, the UNDER has gone 9-3. In one of those games, Alabama forced overtime to hit the OVER against UCLA. In their last three games, the UNDER is 3-0 for Houston and 1-2 for Baylor. Houston’s defense ranks third in the NCAA, making the mark of 133 an interesting one to watch. In its last three games, Houston hasn’t combined for more than 128 points.
For Gonzaga and UCLA, the UNDER is 2-1 for both teams in their last three games. The only reason that all three for UCLA didn’t go UNDER is because of that overtime game. Their total has been set at 145.5. In its last game, UCLA combined with Michigan to score 100 total points, showing that Vegas is counting on Gonzaga to supply some firepower on offense.
For as much as I hate saying it, the UNDER clearly has a strong undertone here and seems like the smart play after everything we have seen so far in March.
Let’s take a look at spread now. In the last 10 tournaments, the favorites are 9-10-1 against the spread and in the last two, the favorites are 2-2. In contrast, as a straight up bet, the favorites are 15-5 in the last 10 tournaments. In fact, in the last five years, just two teams that were underdogs in the semis actually won the games. This year, Baylor is favored by 5 and Gonzaga is favored by 14. The Bruins have covered in every single game of the tournament as an underdog and Gonzaga has won each of its tournament games by 43, 16, 18, and 19 points.
14 is a ton of points to cover but clearly Gonzaga has the chops to pull that off. They have looked like they are on another level of dominance than other teams in this tournament. What’s interesting is that Gonzaga absolutely dominated that USC game in the Elite Eight from start to finish. This UCLA team lost to USC twice in the regular season, once by just a point but in the first contest they lost by 18 points. The #1 seeds in the Final Four since 2005 have covered the number 23 times out of 40 games.
Since a new Trend won’t come out before the National Championship on Monday, just know that in the last three Natty’s, the favorites have won and covered in each and every contest. The spreads in the National Championship haven’t gone higher than 6.5 points in the last three years, but if we were to see a contest between teams like maybe Houston and Gonzaga, I could see a line of about 8.5 being set.
Absolutely wild pick: I think Gonzaga will win, I think they may be able to cover, but Gonzaga historically has a tough time in big games and UCLA moneyline is too juicy not to throw $5-$10 on after having upsets in each and every game. That line for the ML is currently at +700. This is from a value standpoint only.
Nuggets -1.5 vs Clippers
Denver is coming off a really dominant win against the Philadelphia 76ers while the Clippers just had an embarrassing loss to the Orlando Magic who have a bunch of nobodies playing for them. With Paul George, Rajon Rondo, and Serge Ibaka all out in this one, I’ll lean with the Nuggets.