2013 Final Four Betting: Props Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 4/4/2013
Louisville? Yep, it was expected to be in the Final Four. The Cardinals were pre-tournament favorites with Indiana and now are overwhelming -140 favorites at Bovada to win the school's first National Championship since 1986. U of L has won 14 straight games and is pretty much kicking everyone's butt in that stretch. Only two wins have been by single digits. The closest? To fellow Final Four team Syracuse at the Carrier Dome on March 2.
The Orange? Not a huge surprise to be in Atlanta, although they lost four of their final five regular-season games -- including that Louisville defeat. SU also reached the Big East Tournament final, where it somehow managed to turn a 16-point second-half lead into an 18-point loss to ... Louisville. It seems right for the Big East to have half the Final Four teams (and perhaps meet in Monday's championship game) with the conference imploding after this season largely because of Syracuse's imminent departure to the ACC. The Orange are +425 to win the title and their first since 2003.
Michigan? The Wolverines also are no surprise to be at the Georgia Dome. They were No. 1 in the nation for about a minute but have been in the Top 10 all year. Yes, they suffered a truly shocking loss to Penn State and dropped six of their final 12 entering the tournament, but UM also has the country's best player in Big Ten POY Trey Burke, who was also named the AP Player of the Year on Thursday (he's nowhere near the top NBA prospect). The Wolverines are in the Final Four for the first time since the “Fab Five” days -- technically those were vacated later due to NCAA violations largely on Chris Webber's recruitment -- and looking for their first title since Rumeal Robinson hit those winning free throws against Seton Hall in 1989 (he's in prison now). Michigan is +300 to win it all.
Wichita State? Pun intended, it's a Shocker that it is in the national semifinals. Coach Gregg Marshall's club is the second No. 9 to reach a Final Four and the fifth team overall seeded higher than No. 8 to make it. The previous four all lost convincingly in the semis. WSU is the first team from the Missouri Valley to make the Final Four since the Larry Bird-led Indiana State team in 1979. Those Sycamores lost to Magic Johnson's Michigan State team in the finals, arguably the most important college basketball game ever. Sparty also happened to beat the only other Final Four No. 9 seed ever, Penn, in the semis. No surprise, Wichita State is the +1200 long shot of this group.
I do think it's meant to be an All-Big East affair – thus, I would take the Louisville-Syracuse exact matchup at +140. (SU coach Jim Boeheim is 3-0 in three previous national semifinal games.) The last National Championship Game to feature two teams from the same conference was in 1988 when Kansas and Danny Manning beat Oklahoma.
Sportsbook.ag has updated Final Four Most Outstanding Player odds. Louisville's Russ Smith has been the favorite from Day 1, and the junior has been better than expected. He's averaging 26.0 points per game and is a catalyst (13 steals in tourney) for that top-rated Louisville defense. Considering Louisville is such a big favorite, it makes sense Smith is the leader here. It was the same thing last year with Kentucky and its star, Anthony Davis, and he did win it. Smith might have to play nearly 40 minutes the rest of the way with the gruesome injury to backup guard Kevin Ware. Ditto Peyton Siva (+300). I actually like Cards big man Gorgui Dieng at +800 to win MOP. He had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks against Duke and should have his way with smallish Wichita State.
As for some player props, Sportsbook.ag lists Smith's points total against Wichita State at 20.5, with the “over” a -140 favorite. I tend to think the Shockers will make players other than Smith beat them and lean “under”. They are an excellent defensive team and harassed Ohio State guards Aaron Craft and Lenzelle Smith -- admittedly not the scorers Smith is -- to 4-for-18 from the field and a combined 14 points in the Elite Eight. Wichita State doesn't have a lot of size, so I could see Dieng having one of his better offensive games of the season. Thus, I would go over Dieng's 10.5 points total (-120) and over 13.5 combined rebounds and blocks (-130).
Perhaps the best individual matchup of the Final Four is between Michigan's Burke and Syracuse's Michael Carter-Williams. They might be the two best point guards in the nation. According to ESPN, this will be just the second time since assists became an official statistic (1983-84 season) that two players who averaged at least 12 points and six assists during the season will meet in the Final Four.
In reality, though, MCW won't be guarding Burke much because Syracuse plays that killer 2-3 zone. Burke has accounted for 134 points in this tournament, when including assists, to lead all players. Will the 6-footer be able to penetrate that zone with the 6-6 MCW and 6-4 Brandon Triche are at the top of it? Probably be tough. Burke actually isn't shooting well in the Big Dance, going 22-for-63 (34.9 percent) from the field. Syracuse totally shut down Pac-12 Player of the Year Allan Crabbe of Cal (eight points) as well as Indiana's Cody Zeller (3-for-11 for 10 points) and Marquette's Vander Blue (3-for-15 for 14 points). I would take Burke under 18.5 points (even) and that he misses his first shot (-130).
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