March Madness has now ended as we enter into April Madness, with the Final Four going down on Saturday. Of course, the four teams competing for a spot in the championship are IUPUI, Delaware State, Eastern, and Mississippi Valley. Now that we have that terrible attempt at an April Fool’s joke out of the way, the real matchups are Duke versus North Carolina and Kansas versus Villanova. Both games can go either way, with the primetime matchup being the first time Duke and UNC are playing in the tournament in history. Let’s dive into the four best bets for these matchups.
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Kansas vs. Villanova
Kansas -4.5 (-110)
The Wildcats enter looking to return to their third championship in six tournaments. They won the previous two appearances, in 2018 and 2016. Now this year, Villanova will have to do it without one of their best players in Justin Moore. The junior guard tore his Achilles during the final minute of the 50-44 win over Houston. Moore was second on the team in points per game at 14.8 and had a strong game on the defensive side. It is a tough loss for the Wildcats, as their depth is also not very strong. Caleb Daniels has been solid as the sixth man, averaging 10.2 points and six rebounds per game in the tournament. But he will be forced into the starting lineup, and no other bench player has averaged more than 10 minutes per game.
Meanwhile, the Jayhawks aren’t lacking depth, as they have one of the strongest benches in the country. Prior to the Elite Eight, the best two players on Kansas, Ochai Agbaji and David McCormack had been struggling. But with their depth, the Jayhawks were able to get by Texas Southern, Creighton, and Providence. Senior guard Remy Martin has averaged 16.8 points per game off the bench in the tournament. In the first three games, he was the leading scorer on the Jayhawks. In the Elite Eight against Miami, Agbaji and McCormack got back on track. The former scored 18 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists, while the latter scored 15 points to go along with four rebounds. Kansas outscored the Hurricanes 47-15 in the second half to run away with it. With their depth, the Jayhawks pull this one out while covering.
Under 133 (-110)
With Moore out and the lack of depth Villanova has, it might be tough for the Wildcats to scratch across points. Even with Moore, they only scored 50 points in their win over Houston. Meanwhile, Kansas is strong defensively, holding opponents to just a 25.6 percent field goal percentage from behind the arc. Villanova also has a suffocating defense, as they have held opponents to a 21.3 percent three-point percentage. That included only allowing one three to fall against Houston (1-of-20). While Kansas is the strongest three-point shooting team the Wildcats have faced this tournament (35.8 percent), Villanova can force them into the paint. Jay Wright‘s squad wouldn’t be opposed to fouling either, as Kansas has struggled from the charity stripe. In the tournament, they have converted just 56-of-83 free throws. This will be a defensive battle, and Kansas will hold the lead late. As Villanova gets into the fouling game, the score will stay under as we avoid any bad beats here. That could also keep the Wildcats in the game, so the more likely bad beat is Kansas blowing the cover or even the game due to missed free throws.
Best bets: Kansas (-4.5) and Under 133
Duke (-4) vs. North Carolina
This might be the most anticipated college basketball game in the history of college basketball games. It is literally written in the stars, with Coach K going on his farewell tour. Does he end the tour cutting down the nets, or do the Tar Heels get the best of him again to steal him of that chance? These teams have been on a collision course since North Carolina trounced the Blue Devils in their second matchup. Duke is out for revenge and they are playing for their coach to go out on top. To get to this point, they went through Cal State Fullerton, Michigan State, Texas Tech, and Arkansas. The Blue Devils have been ramping it up offensively as they have posted a 59.5 percent field goal percentage in the last three games. Going back to the first matchup, Duke smacked UNC by 20 points at Chapel Hill. They have the better talent from top to bottom and will be more ramped up for this one than they were for Coach K’s final home game. Even while that was a meaningful game, this has a lot more meaning. Duke will win and cover the four points.
Best Bet: Duke (-4)
Prop Bet: Collin Gillespie Under 2.5 Three-Pointers Made (-155)
The Villanova guard has had a rough time shooting from behind the arc of late. Over the last three games, he has shot just 6-for-23 from three-point range, including making under 2.5 threes in two of them. After a tough game against the defensive-minded Houston Cougars, it will be another tough game for Gillespie. Kansas has shown up in their perimeter defense and ranks 21st in the country in three-point percentage allowed (29.6 percent). The Jayhawks held Miami to 3-for-21 from beyond the arc, and they held Providence to 4-for-23 from three-point range the game before. Gillespie will have a tough time getting threes to fall in this game.
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