Cap’n Kielar’s Best Bets: Final Fourby Alex Kielar April 3, 2021 0 comments
Well here we are, it’s the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. After a crazy couple of weeks loaded with upsets and brackets being busted, we now see who will make the championship. Time to preview the matchups while also giving my best bet for both. With the baseball season underway, I will also be giving a few bets for day three of the regular season.
Betting odds are taken from Jazz Sportsbook. Please gamble responsibly.
Houston vs. Baylor
In this all-Texas affair, two-seed Houston meets one-seed Baylor at 5:14 pm EST. Baylor (26-2) comes off an 81-72 over Arkansas in the South Region final as 7.5 point favorites. The Bears have won eight of their last nine games and are 3-1 ATS in the tournament. Their only loss ATS was in round one against Hartford, where they failed to cover by just two points as 25.5 point favorites.
Houston (28-3) extended their winning streak to 11 games after beating Oregon State 67-61 in the Midwest Regional final. The Cougars failed to cover the eight-point spread, and are 2-2 ATS in the tournament. This is their first game as underdogs.
Baylor was led by senior guard MaCio Teague in the elite eight, as he scored 22 points on 8-for-18 shooting (3-7 from three). The Bears were able to reach the Final Four for the first time since 1950 from this performance. Junior guards Jared Butler (14) and Davion Mitchell (12) also scored double digits, while sophomore guard Adam Flagler scored ten off the bench. Mitchell added five assists and Flagler added four steals. Overall, the Bears forced 15 points which resulted in 21 points. Mitchell has averaged 14 points and 5.3 assists while making 52.3% of his field-goal attempts and 45.0% from behind the arc.
Houston reaches the Final Four for the first time since 1984 after a 20-point game from sophomore guard Marcus Sasser and another 18 points from junior guard Quentin Grimes. Grimes has been the spark for the Cougars on the season, averaging 18 PPG and 5.8 rebounds per game. He hit a big three-pointer to break a 55-55 tie with 3:21 left and Houston never looked back. Sasser made five threes and is the second leading scorer with 13.5 PPG.
Houston is one of the best offensive and defensive teams in the country. According to KenPom, they are seventh in adjusted offensive efficiency (118.6) and eighth in adjusted defensive efficiency (88.4). While Baylor is the third-best offense in the country, their defense isn’t as efficient at 28th in the country. Houston should ride their defense and keep this game close. They will definitely have to shoot better, however as they shot just 32.3 percent from the field against Oregon State.
Cap’n Kielar’s Best Bet: Houston (+5)
Gonzaga vs. UCLA
The top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs (30-0) face off against the ULCA Bruins (22-9) at 8:34 pm EST. Gonzaga is two wins away from being the first undefeated champion since Bobby Knight’s 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. They have outscored their opponents in this tournament by 24 PPG. The Bulldogs have been led by sophomore forward Drew Timme (21.3 PPG, 7.5 RPG), senior forward Corey Kispert (17.3 PPG, 15-for-30 three-pointers), junior guard Joel Ayayi (12.3 PPG, 7.8 RPG), and freshman guard Jalen Suggs (12.3 PPG).
UCLA squeaked into the tournament as a First Four team and now has made it all the way to the Final Four. They rallied late in the East Region final to defeat Michigan 86-80 in overtime. The Bruins hold a record 11 National titles but haven’t won since 1995. They also needed overtime to eliminate two-seed Alabama in the Sweet 16, winning 88-78. Sophomore guards Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. have averaged double-digits, scoring 21.6 PPG and 14.2 PPG respectively in the team’s five tournament games. Junior guard Jules Bernard hit the glass with a team-high seven RPG, while Juzang went 12-for-34 from behind the arc.
UCLA has a suffocating defense, holding opponents to 63.2 PPG in the tourney. But this is a Gonzaga team that has averaged 85 PPG even without 98-55 first-round tromping of Norfolk State. The Bruins can also score at a high level, meaning the over can easily be smashed.
Cap’n Kielar’s Best Bet: Over 145.5 (-110)
Boston Red Sox vs. Baltimore Orioles (+160 ML)
Philadelphia Phillies (+1.5) vs. Atlanta Braves
New York Yankees vs. Toronto Blue Jays over 9 runs (-125)
Follow Alex Kielar on Twitter @AlexKielar
Main Image designed by Zach Gotlieb @zachgotlieb