Tar Heels Steal Final Four Spotlight
Something historic is guaranteed to happen at March Madness – unless the North Carolina Tar Heels win it all. The No. 1 seed in the South Region has reached the Final Four for the 20th time, whereas the other three remaining teams have been there once – combined. And it happened way back in 1939 when the Oregon Ducks won the first-ever NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
The Ducks will face North Carolina this Saturday (8:49 PM ET, CBS) in Glendale to decide who gets to play in the National Championship Game. But it’s the Tar Heels who have everyone’s attention, and at press time, they’re 5-point favorites to beat Oregon, up from –4.5 at the open. UNC are also +145 favorites to win the whole thing on the March Madness futures market. Those are remarkable odds, considering the Heels’ path to the final is fraught with danger.
By just about every measure available, the Gonzaga Bulldogs have outperformed everyone else in college basketball this season. The Bulldogs have the best record in Division I at 36-1 SU, and they’re the most profitable team in the nation at 23-9-2 ATS. The advanced stats also point to the No. 1 seed in the West Region as this year’s No. 1 overall team, with the best defense you’ll find anywhere, and a high-octane offense that can punish opponents inside and outside.
That being said, the ‘Zags play in relative obscurity in the West Coast Conference, and they’ve never been to the Final Four until now, so they’re getting treated more like a Cinderella story than a real title contender. But their road to the National Championship is much easier than North Carolina’s; Gonzaga will play the South Carolina Gamecocks in Saturday’s opener (6:09 PM ET, CBS), with the Bulldogs holding steady as 6.5-point favorites.
Duck and Cover
There might not be all that much difference in talent between Gonzaga and UNC (31-7 SU, 19-15-3 ATS), but there certainly is between Oregon (33-5 SU, 21-15-1 ATS) and South Carolina (26-10 SU, 15-16-2 ATS). Even without talented big man Chris Boucher, who averaged 20-and-10 per 40 minutes before blowing out his left knee at the Pac-12 tourney, the Ducks were named the No. 3 seed in the Midwest – and they pounded the No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks (–8) to reach the Final Four.
The Gamecocks, meanwhile, are the No. 7 seed in the East. While they’ve run the table at the Tournament thus far, the ‘Cocks had the good fortune of playing the injured, flawed and overrated Duke Blue Devils (–6.5) in the Second Round. South Carolina is +750 to ride this momentum all the way to the title, a considerable distance behind Oregon at +525. Yet the ‘Zags find themselves behind the Tar Heels at +180 to win their first championship. That’s madness.
Are you looking for a reputable site to bet the Final Four? Check out our reviews, written by fellow sports bettors. Don’t get scammed, get informed.