NCAA Tournament Championship Game Predictions - Betting the Total Line
by Dave Schwab - 4/2/2012
Tonight at the Superdome in New Orleans, the Midwest Region’s No.2-seed Kansas Jayhawks clash with the South Region’s No.1-seed Kentucky Wildcats for this season’s men’s college basketball’s national title. The Wildcats have been opened as healthy six-point favorites, but the more interesting play could actually be on this game’s total line, which is set at 137.5.
The following is a look at a few key facts and figures for this matchup that should have a major impact on the final score along with some NCAA Tournament Championship Game predictions.
Defense has been the name of the game for Kansas all season long. It has held its opponents to an average of 61.6 points a game and a 37.9 percent shooting average from the field. It has especially put the clamps on in this tournament; giving up an average of 59.2 points in five games.
The total has stayed ‘under’ in 22 of the Jayhawks’ 37 games this season with a posted line. It has stayed under in 16 of their 21 games on the road this season and in four of their five NCAA Tournament games. In fact, the total has stayed ‘under’ in 18 of Kansas’ last 22 NCAA Tournament games.
Kentucky has been known for lighting up the scoreboard this season with five players scoring in double figures, led by Anthony Davis’ 14.4 points a game. However, it has been its stingy defense that has taken the Wildcats to the brink of adding an eighth national title to the resume of this school’s storied basketball program. Kentucky is holding its opponents to 60.6 points a game while limiting their shooting percentage to just 34.7 from the field.
The total has gone ‘over’ in four of the Wildcats’ five tournament games, but it stayed under the 136-point line in Saturday’s 69-61 victory over Louisville. Overall, the total has stayed under in 20 of their 38 games this season, including in 13 of their 20 games away from home. Coming into this tournament, the total had stayed under in three of Kentucky’s previous four games.
The talent level in this matchup remains high with Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor dumping in a combined average of 35.2 points a game for Kansas and Davis, Doron Lamb, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist averaging a combined 39.8 points a game for Kentucky.
Despite all this offensive firepower, defense will still dictate the pace and final outcome of this game. Robinson is averaging 11.6 rebounds a game in this tournament and Davis has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Wildcats with an average of 11.6 rebounds and 6.6 blocks in his team’s five-game run.
These two teams met in mid-November this season with Kentucky coming away with a 75-65 victory as a 6.5-point home favorite. The total in that game stayed under the 147.5 point line. It has now stayed under in four of the last six meetings between the two dating all the way back to 1998.
The total line for this matchup opened at 140.5 points not long after the Jayhawks’ 64-62 win over Ohio State on Saturday night, but it has been driven down by three points with the early money coming in on the under. Normally it is usually a better play to go against the betting public, but in this case, both Kansas and Kentucky are playing lights-out on defense to go along with the past trends they bring into this matchup.
The Wildcats end up cutting down the nets in New Orleans, but the total score remains lower than 137 points.
Prediction: Kentucky 69, Kansas 65
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