GAMBLING GUIDE

2018 Final Four: How to bet the games

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Down to four teams, March Madness takes center stage in San Antonio Saturday evening. After all the dust has cleared from the turmoil of the initial rounds, we find ourselves with some intriguing matchups from a stylistic perspective. Let's jump right in!

Favorites 42-22 Straight up
Favorites  28-35-1 ATS
Over-Under    27-36-1

Odds to win the NCAA Championship
Villanova -102
Michigan +248
Kansas +390
Loyola Chicago +1260

ATS this season
Loyola-Chicago 23-9-1
Villanova 26-12
Michigan 24-12-2
Kansas 20-16-1

Michigan vs. Loyola (Michigan -5 O/U 129.5)

The Sister Jeans have been nothing short of spectacular, giving fans a Cinderella story to get behind. But, just like any good story, everything must come to an end. This Loyola team has pulled off something only three other teams have accomplished, taking an 11 seed to a final four, the only problem is neither of the other teams were able to advance to the championship game. The Ramblers gameplan is simple:

1) Slow the game down
2) Move the ball around
3) Take smart/efficient shots
4) Use the shot clock
5) limit the transition

The gameplan has worked to perfection thus far, the Ramblers are shooting 52.5 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from long range during this incredible run, all while holding opponents to 42.5 percent shooting and 29.9 percent from deep. Loyola has only scored 70+ in 1 game out of the last 9,  playing right into Michigan's trends, where opponents have failed to surpass 70 points on 28 occasions. During this tournament, they have been even more vexatious, limiting opponent shooting to 37.7 percent from the field. With both teams playing at a slow tempo, and both teams struggling in rebounding, I expect this game to be dictated by late opportunities in the shot clock and extended possessions.

The Pick
Conclusively, the Wolverines will prove to be too big on the inside and the presence of Moe Wagner will serve as the deciding factor in a low scoring game. The Ramblers shoot over 40 percent from deep, but they do it by shooting low volume from behind the arch. Instead, they wait for defenses to get overly aggressive late in shot clocks and punish them for overplaying. Luckily for the Wolverine faithful, Michigan is the best team in the entire nation at limiting opponents from 3.

Michigan -5
1st half -3
1st half Under 59.5

Villanova vs. Kansas Villanova -5 O/U 154.5

Villanova leads the way as the favorite and deservingly so. The Wildcats have won all of their tournament games by double digits and are 4-0 ATS. Even more impressive, Villanova is on a nine-game win streak during the last month, blowing out 8 of their 9 opponents by double digits.  On paper, these teams are very similar:
  

                         Offense | Defense  | Tempo | SOS
Villanova          1                    13            160         16
Kansas              5                   41            150           2

What ultimately will be the factor is the ability of the Wildcats to spread the ball out. In the Elite 8 matchup vs. Texas Tech, they played horribly but still managed to win big and cover the line. They did so by doing other things right and limiting their opponent's strengths. Villanova only ran an eight-man rotation and had five players score double digits. Both teams shot under 35% for the game, but the biggest disparity was on the boards, where the Wildcats dominated 51 to 33. When an efficient team is shooting bad, they must do other things right, and the Wildcats also dominated from the free throw line outshooting Tech by 17 from the charity stripe. Thier opponents, the Kansas Jayhawks, come into this game as 5 point underdogs and as of late they have thrived in that role and are 6-1 straight up and ATS in their last 7 games when getting points.

The Pick
This Villanova team is special on the attacking end, and many are saying they are the best team they've ever seen offensively. They have now won 134 games in the last four years surpassing that of the 1997-2001 Duke team. Kansas will need to rebound well and limit the Wildcat second chances, and Udoka Azubuike will be key. The only problem is he has been dealing with foul trouble all tournament long, and that's a bad recipe facing a team that shoots 78% from the stripe, eighth in the nation. In the end, the rebounding and efficient shooting will be enough to get them to win, and free throws will be key to covering the line.

Villanova -5
Over 154.5

Plays

Michigan -5
Michigan 1st half -3
1st half Under 59.5

Villanova -5
Over 154.5

For any questions or comments reach me at @JerryBoKnowz on twitter

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It's all systems go for the Houston Texans! Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images.

It was 2002 and the city of Houston was rewarded with the NFL's 32nd franchise. I remember the newspaper special section with all the info points on the new team. There was even a full page graphic explaining how the grass plates were constructed. (Side Note: We should've known right then and there it was going to be disastrous!) There was a level of excitement unseen since the Rockets won a title, I'd assume. People were wearing “32, Houston” jerseys. There was more Battle Red, Deep Steel Blue, and Liberty White around town than a Fourth of July day parade.

The next time the city was excited about Texans football involved the Gary Kubiak days of making the playoffs. After that, Bill O'Brien hung a few division title banners as well. That's when the lull came. It all came crashing down, swiftly and mightily. The death of Bob McNair may have played a part in things deteriorating so quickly. Whether blame is placed here or there, changes needed to be made. Cal McNair was seen as incompetent. In comes Nick Caserio. He had a mess to clean up. The last two seasons were awful, but necessary. After back-to-back one-and-done coaches, Caserio has hired his guy.

Enter DeMeco Ryans. The former Texans great linebacker was the 49ers defensive coordinator the past two seasons. He took over a great defense and kept it going. From the moment he stepped on campus at Alabama, he commanded a different level of respect. Not only was he good, but he was a leader. Nicknamed “Cap” because he was a captain on and off the field. That followed him to Houston. His presence was felt everywhere he went. It was known before his career ended that he'd most likely be a coach one day.

This moment in time right now is giving 2002, Kubiak playoffs, and O'Brien playoff vibes but amplified. Why? Because one of this franchise's own has come home. Ryans was the most desired candidate this coaching cycle. Sean Payton may have had the bigger name, but Ryans was the one the Broncos tried to go back after, then settled on Payton. Teams he turned down had to move along and find other candidates to fill their vacancies. HE CHOSE HOUSTON! Nothing like feeling desired and being chosen!

I believe DeMeco will turn this franchise around and make them a contender. It's very rare that you have a star athlete turned sought after coach and NOBODY has a bad word to say about him! Social media has turned things into a 12-hour news cycle. Yet you've NEVER heard or seen DeMeco involved in any foolishness. He's been a model citizen, while also maintaining a high level of play and now coaching. When people respect you for your football acumen AND your character, that says a lot. Whoever said nice guys finish last obviously hasn't met DeMeco.

Armed with some cap space, draft capital, a capable GM, and ownership seeking a fresh start, DeMeco is set up to succeed. It's up to him, and Caserio, to finish what was started two years ago. Currently, the house on Kirby has a few more improvements to make. Some paint, redoing the floors, new landscaping, and new furniture. The kitchens and bathrooms are done. It needs the final touch. DeMeco is that final touch.

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