The Final Four is almost here. It has been a crazy ride this year, unique as it always is. In this break before the Final Four we have nearly a week to find every edge that we can so that we can make the best possible decisions in the three games remaining and come out on top. Some years the bracket looks as you expected it to. This is probably not one of those years. That means that these may not be the teams you know best - especially in the case of South Carolina. It's time to do what we can to change that by looking at some Final Four betting trends:
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The Bulldogs not only have the most impressive record in the country at 36-1, but at 23-9 ATS they are also the second-most-profitable team in the country to bet on. To cover that many spreads this year when they were getting plenty of national attention and just dominating outmatched opponents is a sign of how strong this team really is.
The story hasn't been all positive lately, though. In fact, since the middle of February the team has not been much to bet on at all. They were 6-0-1 ATS in seven games, but on Feb. 18 they failed to cover against Pacific. They bounced back next time out, but then they were stunned in their season finale against Brigham Young, losing by eight as 21-point favorites. They went 2-1 ATS in the WCC Tournament, but they failed to cover their first two NCAA Tournament spreads before pushing against West Virginia. In total, then, the team is a bleak 4-5-1 ATS over their last 10 - quite the reversal from earlier form. It's perhaps not a coincidence that the slide approximately coincides with the time they climbed to No. 1 in the nation and drew more attention than ever.
On the season they weren't much of a team to bet on the totals - 16 "overs" and 18 "unders". There has been a recent reversal in form here as well, though, as they have been a wildly profitable 7-2 on the under in their last nine outings.
South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina will be playing Gonzaga, but from a betting perspective the teams couldn't be any more different. They are a bleak 15-16-2 ATS, so there has been no long-term money to be made regardless on how you bet on them. The last two months could be called nothing other than streaky. Starting at the beginning of February they failed to cover six straight spreads and nine of 10. That carried them through their last nine regular-season games and into the rough loss to Alabama in their SEC Tournament opener. They lost six of those 10 games straight up as well, so they really weren't in a good place as a team. But then the NCAA Tournament started and, for reasons that we will never be able to explain, everything changed. Not only have they won four straight, but they have covered all four spreads as well.
The under has an edge for the team on the season but only a slightly profitable one. They have gone under the total 18 times and over just 14. Again, this tournament has gone against the trend - the team has gone over in three of four games, with the defensive wonder of a game against Baylor the only exception.
North Carolina Tar Heels
The Tar Heels have been a profitable team ATS, though not nearly to the extent of the Bulldogs. They have gone 18-15-1 ATS. They were a stellar 10-4-1 ATS at home and an underwhelming 3-8 ATS in true road games. That means that they are 5-3 ATS on a neutral court, which is all that matters to us now. They have also been streaky - they failed to cover four in a row starting at the end of January then covered four straight tight after that. Since then they have gone 3-3-2 ATS and have neither covered nor failed to cover twice in a row in that time. For what it's worth, they are due for a non-cover - they covered against Butler and then pushed against Kentucky last time out.
They have gone under the total 21 times this season and over just 14, so there has been a nice profit to be had on the total. Don't get too excited just yet, though - they have gone over six times and under four on neutral courts, so the profits have come on the over in spots like the one they face next time out. They have gone over in three of their last five, though the Kentucky game was solidly under the total.
There is something about the West Coast - Oregon is the second-most- profitable remaining team behind Gonzaga. They sit at 21-15-1 ATS, so they are solidly profitable. They are just 5-5-1 ATS on neutral courts, though, so this isn't a dominant spot for them. They are 3-3-1 ATS in the neutral-site games they have played since the postseason started but 2-1-1 ATS in the NCAA Tournament. Their win against Kansas last time out was the first time they have been an underdog since they played Arizona on Feb. 9 against UCLA. You don't need to be worried about them being an underdog against North Carolina - they have been a dog three times this year and have covered each time.
The team has gone over the total 17 times, and under 20 times, so there isn't a lot of money to be made on the total. The under has a slight edge, and they have gone under in their last two games. They had gone over in four in a row and six of seven before that, though, so this recent trend isn't easy to trust.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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