Final Four Betting: Oregon vs. North Carolina

The talk heading into the tournament for Oregon is how they lost key forward Chris Boucher (ACL) in the Pac 12 tournament. Many thought that a Sweet 16 appearance was possible, but a Final Four trip? That seemed like a stretch.

But the Ducks have surprised the naysayers, knocking off 14-seed Iona, 11-seed Rhode Island, 7-seed Michigan, and 1-seed Kansas. The Jayhawks were definitely favored against Oregon, but the latter pulled out a solid 74-60 victory. Next up: North Carolina, the tournament’s top-overall seed.

Getting here hasn’t been easy for UNC because they survived 8-seed Arkansas in the second round, and needed a Luke Maye game-winner to knock off Kentucky. Despite the close calls, nothing has changed for UNC, and a championship is still the expectation.

Will they win the school’s sixth national championship? Let’s find out by discussing both teams and also going over betting strategy for this game.

No. 3 Oregon (33-5) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (31-7); Saturday (April 1 @ 8:35pm) Betting Line: Oregon +5 (-110); North Carolina -5 (-110)

Why the Ducks will Cover their +5 Spread

tyler-dorsey-vs-kansasThe one big area where Boucher’s loss hurts is depth. Luckily for the Ducks, though, they have enough good players to make up for his absence.

This team is led by the energetic Dillon Brooks (16.3 PPG), a 6’6″ forward who shoots 41% from beyond the arc. Sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey (14.5 PPG) also shoots well from three-point range, hitting 42.3% of his attempts. Dorsey has been the key in March Madness, averaging 24.5 points while making 17-of-26 three-pointers (65.4%) in four games.

6’9″ junior forward Jordan Bell (10.9 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.2 BPG) is a reason why Oregon is one of the few teams that can contend with North Carolina’s size. Coach Dana Altman will probably use the 6’11” Kavell Bigby-Williams more in this game too. Bigby-Williams plays less than 10 minutes a game, but he also averages nearly 1 block in this limited time.

jordan-bell-vs-kansasDylan Ennis (10.7 PPG) is one more player to watch in this contest. The 6’2″ guard helps Dorsey with the ball-handing duties and also provides good leadership.

Much of the Ducks’ hopes rely on Dorsey staying hot, and Brooks/Bell/Bigby-Williams being able to contain UNC’s front line. If they can do this, then they have a realistic shot at moving onto the school’s first national championship game since 1939.

Regarding betting, Oregon is 3-1 against the spread (ATS) in the tournament. In the 11 games leading up to March Madness, the Ducks were 7-4 ATS.

Why the Tar Heels will cover their -5 Spread

kennedy-meeks-vs-kentuckyNorth Carolina avenged an earlier loss to Kentucky by winning 75-73 in dramatic fashion. The close game wasn’t totally surprising, given that the Wildcats had three potential NBA lottery picks on their roster. But UNC survived the test and are in their second-straight Final Four.

Leading scorers Justin Jackson (18.2 PPG) and Joel Berry III (14.6 PPG) struggled against Kentucky, hitting 11-of-29 shots, including 1-for-10 from three-point range. Lucky for them, 6’10” Kennedy Meeks (12.3 PPG, 9.3 RPG) was a beast, grabbing 17 rebounds (5 offensive) and blocking four shots.

Meeks is joined on the front line by 6’9″ Isaiah Hicks (12.1 PPG, 5.4 PPG) and 6’6″ Todd Pinson (6.0 PPG, 4.2 RGP). Hicks will need to step up against Oregon since he had 4 points and zero rebounds against Kentucky; but he did help the defensive effort, blocking 3 shots.

What makes UNC even harder to defend is the fact that they can bring the 6”8″ Maye off the bench. Although the sophomore is only averaging 5.8 points during the season, he’s scoring 12.5 PPG in March Madness, including 16.5 points over the past two games.

The Tar Heels have multiple forwards that they can employ at any time. Plus, Jackson is a 6’8″ forward who plays like a shooting guard. There’s a very good chance that North Carolina can impose their will on the shorter and less-deep Ducks.

UNC is 2-1-1 ATS in March Madness, and 5-2-1 ATS in their eight games before the tourney.

Final Thoughts on Oregon vs. North Carolina Betting

It’s not hard to see why the Ducks made the Final Four when you consider that Dorsey has stepped up big-time, averaging 24.5 points during March Madness and shooting a blistering 65% from beyond the arc. Add in the usually strong play of Brooks, Bell, and Ennis, and this is a legitimate Final Four squad.

The problem, though, is that Oregon’s front line will get wore out competing against the likes of Meeks, Hicks, Pinson, Jackson, and Maye. Bell is a very good rebounder and shot blocker, while Bigby-Williams will provide shot blocking off the bench. However, the Ducks can’t rotate forwards in and out of the game the entire time like UNC. That said, we expect the Tar Heels to have big rebounding and paint-scoring advantages.

Final Score Prediction: North Carolina wins 85-77

Final Four Betting: South Carolina vs. Gonzaga

thornwell-south-carolinaSouth Carolina is easily the most-surprising of the 2017 Final Four participants. They ended their SEC conference schedule on a down note, losing 6 of their last 9 games, and getting into the tournament based on earlier results. And this is the reason why few expected the Gamecocks to make any noise during March Madness.

But here we are nearing April, and South Carolina is the tournament’s only Cinderella left. Victories over 10-seed Marquette, 2-seed Duke, 3-seed Baylor, and 4-seed Florida have earned them a trip to Phoenix.

Their opponent is Gonzaga, which finally exercised some demons by booking a trip to the Final Four. Of course, it should be little surprise that the Bulldogs have made it this far since they’ve only lost one game, and have been in or around the nation’s top ranking all year.

Gonzaga’s road to the Final Four hasn’t been as tough as South Carolina’s, winning over 16-seed South Dakota State, 8-seed Northwestern, 4-seed West Virginia, and 11-seed Xavier. But the Bulldogs fended off potential upsets and are one step closer to winning the title.

Who will win and move into the title game to play the winner of Oregon/North Carolina? Which team will cover their spread? Find out as we discuss everything you need to know regarding the Bulldogs and Gamecocks.

No. 7 South Carolina (26-10) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga (36-1); Friday (April 1 @ 6:05pm) Betting Line: South Carolina +7 (-110); Gonzaga -7 (-110)

Why the Gamecocks will Cover their +7 Spread

As mentioned in the introduction, nothing has been easy for South Carolina. Few expected them to get past Duke in the second round, but they pulled off an 88-81 upset. Then they made things look easy against Baylor, winning 70-50.

Beating Florida for a second time this season? No problem for a South Carolina team that’s exceeded expectations throughout the tourney.

Based on what the Gamecocks have done so far, it’s not outside the bounds to think that they could also knock off the Zags. Gonzaga is a little better overall than Duke, Baylor, and Florida, but they’re not an insurmountable task.

dozier-thornwellThe key for South Carolina is making sure that their stars are on. This isn’t a deep team, so they need guards Sindarius Thornwell (21.6 PPG) and P.J. Dozier (13.8 PPG) to step up. This was certainly the case against Florida, as Thornwell hit 8-of-13 shots while scoring 26 points, and Dozier make 7-of-11 shots to score 17. Others who played well against the Gators include Chris Silva (13 points, 9 rebounds) and Maik Kostar (12 points).

The problem – as it’s been all season for South Carolina – is that they only got 3 points off their bench. Additionally, they played four of their starters for 36 minutes or more, meaning there’s little firepower outside of the core players.

Thornwell and Dozier have been great in the tournament so far. If they’re both on again, and get some help from another starter or two, then this team can make an improbably championship appearance.

From a betting standpoint, South Carolina is 4-0 against the spread (ATS) in their last four games. But in the 10 contests prior to March Madness, they were just 1-9 ATS.

Why the Bulldogs will cover their -7 Spread

gonzaga-march-madnessOver the past two decades, Gonzaga has transformed from a little-known basketball school into a powerhouse that makes the tournament every year. But the only thing missing from the Bulldogs’ resume until now was a Final Four appearance. They’ve taken care of this bit of history and are now looking at more if they can get past a less-heralded South Carolina team.

As we discussed earlier in the year, this is the most-complete team we’ve seen from Gonzaga. The dilemma in years’ past was always that they relied on one pro-level talent to score big, including Adam Morrison, Kyle Wiltjer, and Domantas Sabonis. But this season, the Zags have several players who can score and can absorb 1-2 starters having an off-night.

karnowski-gonzagaThe leading scorer is point guard Nigel Williams-Goss (16.7 PPG, 4.6 APG), while Przemek Karnowski (12.2 PPG), Jordan Matthews (10.7 PPG), Jonathan Williams (10.3 PPG), Zach Collins (9.9 PPG, 1.6 BPG), and Josh Perkins (8.2 PPG) also make significant contributions. Basically, this Bulldogs team is everything that the Gamecocks aren’t.

Last weekend, we saw Gonzaga end Xavier’s season with emphasis, thumping this Cinderella 83-59. Their depth was on full display, as four players scored in double figures, and they got a solid 14 points off the bench. There’s a good chance that they’ll dominate South Carolina and end their season as well.

From a betting perspective, the Zags are 1-2-1 ATS in March Madness. In their last 9 games before the tourney, they were 7-2 ATS.

Final Thoughts on South Carolina vs. Gonzaga Betting

This game features two teams playing in their school’s first-ever Final Four. On one side, you have a South Carolina team that relies on two stars in Dozier and Thornwell to carry them. Meanwhile, Gonzaga has a solid starting five along with support from the bench. Based on the Bulldogs’ depth, we see them overwhelming the Gamecocks while using their strong defense to force Dozier and/or Thornwell into a poor-shooting game.

Final Score Prediction: Gonzaga wins 83-69