2015 Final Four Betting: Michigan State vs. Duke

michigan-state-vs-dukeOne hot pick as far as 2015 Final Four betting goes is the Duke Blue Devils. After all, they’ve already beaten two of this year’s Final Four participants in Wisconsin (80-70) and Michigan State (81-71). But if Duke is one of the favorites to cut down the nets in Indianapolis, head coach Mike Krzyzewski isn’t letting anybody know.

“I don’t know who expected us to be here,” Krzyzewski said. “We have eight guys and four freshmen. I think at times you expect a program to be here instead of looking at a team.”

Perhaps Krzyzewski is trying to make his team seem like they’re the underdog heading into tomorrow night’s contest against Michigan State. However, that’s kind of hard to do when you see what Michigan State has overcome to get here.

First off, Adreian Payne, Gary Harris and Keith Appling all graduated from last year’s Elite Eight squad. And this is a team that also looked like they’d have a tough time even making the tournament in December, after losing at home to Texas Southern 71-64 (OT).

But the Spartans turned things around and were able to land a No. 7 seed when selection time came. And while this isn’t exactly a recipe for a Final Four run, they are nevertheless here, ready to face No. 1 seed Duke. “Maybe it wasn’t as expected, we had a little rougher run during the year,” said head coach Tom Izzo. “When you get your program to a certain level, I think that’s our expectations, that’s what we want our kids’ expectations, the media and fans.”

So who has the edge? Let’s take a look at the game time and line, then discuss how things might play out.

Game Time: 6:09 pm EST, Saturday on TBS
GTBets.eu Line:
Michigan State (-110)
Duke -5 (-110)

okafor-vs-msuWhat to watch for

How will Jahlil Okafor step up?
Okafor is no doubt this game’s biggest star, having averaged 17.5 PPG and 8.7 RPG throughout the year. The 6’11” center from Chicago has played well enough this college season to solidify his status as a top-2 pick heading into the 2015 NBA Draft. But how will he fare in the now, against elite Final Four competition? He needs to do much better than the past two games, which have seen him score just 16 points combined on 7-of-16 shooting.

Which Senior Guard will emerge?
Senior guards are always important come March Madness time, and both teams have them. MSU has Travis Trice while Duke features Quinn Cook. The latter has averaged 14.5 PPG in the tournament while Trice has scored an even-more impressive 19.8 PPG (up four points from his season average).

Will Justise Winslow continue his Tear?
Freshman forward Justise Winslow has certainly played well in March Madness. After averaging 12.5 PPG and 6.3 RPG during the season, he’s averaged 14 PPG and 9.5 RPG in Duke’s four tournament games. His performance against Utah (21 points, 10 boards) was especially crucial in taking down Utah. So the question is, will Winslow keep elevating his game as the 2015 NCAA Tournament reaches its peak.

Can MSU make Free Throws?
So far, the answer has been yes. The last two games saw Michigan State hit 6-of-6 free throws against Oklahoma and 15-of-20 free throws against Louisville. However, they made just 63.2% of their attempts throughout the season and if these problems resurface, then they could be hurting against Duke.

Overall Prediction: Michigan State has done an excellent job to reach the 2015 Final Four after going just 23-11 in the regular season (27-11 now). However, it feels like the Cinderella run (if you can call it this for an MSU team) is about to end against Duke. Okafor will probably get back on track against the Spartans, and if Winslow has another good game, then it’s good night Michigan State.

Final Score: Duke 77 – MSU 65

2015 Final Four Betting: Can Wisconsin stop Kentucky?

frank-kaminsky-kentuckyThose interested in 2015 Final Four betting certainly have some exciting matchups to pick from, with Kentucky taking on Wisconsin on one side of the bracket and Duke playing Michigan State in the other game. But as good as both contests figure to be, “the other game” might be the most-appropriate way to describe Duke and MSU.

Kentucky vs. Wisconsin is no doubt the marquee matchup of the 2015 Final Four for two reasons:

1) It’s two No. 1 seeds facing off against each other.
2) This is a rematch of last year’s Final Four game, which Kentucky won 74-73.

The second point ensures that this will be a very emotional game, with the Badgers hoping to get some revenge for their one-point loss. Of course, seeking revenge against this Wildcats team won’t be any small feat. After all, Kentucky is 38-0, chasing history, loaded with McDonald’s All-Americans, and they boast Karl-Anthony Towns, the likely top pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

But if there’s a team left in this Final Four that can stop Kentucky’s quest to become the first undefeated team since Indiana in 1976, it is definitely the Badgers, and here’s why.

1. Frank Kaminsky

Kaminsky was just named the AP Player of the Year and there’s good reason why. His numbers are obviously strong since he averaged 18.7 PPG and 8.0 RPG, but what Kaminsky does goes beyond the numbers. Kaminsky is a 7-footer whose three-point shot has to be respected by the defense. And he uses this shot to get defenders falling for his perimeter pump-fakes, before taking the ball in for strong dribble drives. Kentucky will likely throw a lot of different looks at the Player of the Year, but expect Kaminsky to still get his.

sam-dekker-wisconsin2. Sam Dekker

It’s not exactly like Kentucky can just center their defense on Kaminsky because Sam Dekker is also a lethal inside-outside threat. The 6’9″ junior has been crushing the opposition in the Tournament, nailing 48% of his three-pointers and 73% of his two-pointers – up from his season averages of 33.8% (three) and 52.6% overall. With both Dekker and Kaminsky, Wisconsin is one team that’ll keep the elite Kentucky big men off guard.

3. Wisconsin is Excellent in One-on-One Situations

The Badgers have a little NBA in their offense since they are great at going one on one against opposing teams. In fact, Synergy Sports cites that Wisconsin is THE best one-on-one team in college basketball, scoring 1.05 points on each isolation possession. Dekker is one huge reason why because he’s scoring 1.15 points per iso play. The slick forward from Sheboygan, WI is very adept at taking the ball into the paint, then finishing strong, hitting a floater or doing a spin move. Of course, Kaminsky is another Badger who’ll be burning Kentucky defenders with his iso moves as well.

4. The Rest of this Team can play Too

This isn’t all about Dekker and Kaminsky because the supporting cast is very good too. Josh Gasser, Bronson Koenig, and Nigel Hayes have all been quite good in their roles throughout the season. And they’ve also played very well during March Madness as well, which is certainly most important heading into tomorrow’s game.

5. They have Experience against the Wildcats

Don’t expect Wisconsin to be overwhelmed, like so many of Kentucky’s opponents this year. As mentioned before, they only lost by a single point to the Wildcats in last year’s Final Four. And given that Wisconsin has their own NBA candidates in Kaminsky and Dekker, they are certainly a team that can keep up in terms of talent. The only question is if this team can do enough to contain Towns, Willie Cauley-Stein, the Harrison twins and Kentucky’s deep, deep bench.

2015 Final Four Betting: Kentucky still Big Favorite to win

kentucky-number-one-2015When the 2015 NCAA Tournament began, undefeated Kentucky was the overwhelming favorite to win it all. And as we enter 2015 Final Four betting, nothing has changed in this regard.

Based on our GTBets.eu line on which team will win the Final Four, Kentucky (38-0) is sitting at 2-to-3 odds, meaning you must risk $3 to win $2. Below you can see a full list of the odds and teams:

Kentucky – 2-to-3 odds of winning
Duke – 3-to-1 odds of winning
Wisconsin – 4-to-1 odds of winning
Michigan State – 8-to-1 odds of winning

Individual Matchups

Okay, so it’s pretty clear that the Wildcats are still the favorites to cut down the nets in Indianapolis. But what about the individual matchups? Here’s a look at all of this info, along with game times/dates:

Michigan State (7) vs. Duke (1) — Saturday, April 4th at 6:09 p.m. EST on TBS
Michigan State (-110)
Duke – 5 (-110

Kentucky (1) vs. Wisconsin (1) — Saturday, April 4th at 8:49 p.m. EST on TBS
Wisconsin (-110)
Kentucky -5 (-110)

frank-kaminsky-wisconsinAs you can see, both games are expected to be somewhat close. This is interesting in Kentucky’s case when considering how dominant they have been. But Wisconsin is a great team that’ll no doubt be out for revenge. After all, the Badgers lost to Kentucky 74-73 in last year’s Final Four – thanks to an Aaron Harrison three-pointer. So this will certainly be an emotionally charged game for Wisconsin.

On the other side of the bracket, elite NBA prospect Jahlil Okafor and Duke face off against the Michigan State Spartans. The Blue Devils are seeking their fifth national title, and they’re favored to advance in this game. And it’s little surprise when considering that Michigan State is by far the lowest-seeded team involved in the Final Four. But head coach Tom Izzo has a national title of his own and another strong group again this year, so don’t count out the Spartans.

Still chasing History

Back to Kentucky, most fan interest will be dedicated to seeing if they can become the first undefeated men’s college basketball team since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. Once again, the 2015 Final Four betting odds seem to indicate that they will.

However, with three out of four No. 1 seeds making it to the semifinals, this is one of the toughest Final Fours in recent memory. So Kentucky will certainly have their work cut out for them if they are to complete history.

The last chance to see an unbeaten team came in 1991, when Larry Johnson and the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels made it to the semifinals. But they couldn’t finish the job after losing to Duke. So the ultimate question remains, will Kentucky end up like UNLV, or will they join Bobby Knight’s ’76 Indiana Hoosiers in the record books? Find out for yourself this weekend, and be sure to place your Final Four bets at GTBets.