How the Final Four Teams Have Performed at the Betting Window
It seems like a lifetime ago, but it has been less than two weeks since we had a full field of 68 teams harboring dreams of winning the NCAA Tournament. And here we are already, down to just four teams. They aren't necessarily the four teams that everyone anticipated, but there aren't any that truly rock the foundations, either - there is no Loyola this year. As we look towards the weekend's Final Four festivities in Minneapolis, it is worthwhile looking at what the teams have done up to this point. By looking back, we can hopefully do better moving forward as bettors. Here are some Final Four betting trends to chew on as you make your betting decisions:
The Tigers were a group of late bloomers. They didn't really find their true stride until the postseason neared. But in the end, they were reasonably kind to bettors. They wound up at 21-16-1 ATS, which is enough to generate a small but real profit. But up until the beginning of March, the story was much different. They have gone 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games, which means that they were a much less impressive 13-14-1 ATS up to that point. Included in that stretch they have gone 4-0 ATS as underdogs, including their impressive wins against North Carolina and Kentucky. It has been a tough path for this team to get this far, but they have handled it brilliantly. Far more brilliantly than I expected, I will willingly admit.
The only game they have not covered in this tournament is the opener against New Mexico State. And in many ways that is the closest they have come to losing. In fact, they probably should have lost that one.
The late burst of success has improved their status in the SEC considerably - only Ole Miss was more profitable in the league at 23-10 ATS.
The Tigers were kind to totals bettors, too. They have gone "over" in 22 of 38 games to generate a solid profit. Again, though, that profitability has only come late - they have gone over in each of their last five games.
Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans have been outstandingly kind to bettors this season. At 27-11 ATS, they are not only the most profitable team that made the NCAA Tournament, but only Drake, at 23-7-2 ATS, delivered more profits in the entire country.
Michigan State has managed to maintain their momentum into the postseason. They have covered the spread in five of their last six games, which includes the semifinals and finals wins of the Big Ten Tournament, and their last three wins in the Big Dance. The only game they didn't cover in that stretch was their tournament opener against Bradley, but that was still an easy 11-point win as 17.5-point favorites, so it is tough to be too critical about that. They aren't a team that has had a standard approach to covering spreads lately, either. They came from way back late to beat Michigan. They dominated Wisconsin, Minnesota and LSU to overwhelm as favorites. And they won a crazy tight one against Duke to get to this point.
Despite the strength of the Big Ten on the court and in the tournament, it wasn't a strong betting group - Michigan State is just one of three teams in the conference that were profitable on the season.
The team wasn't as strong on the totals as they were against the spread, but they were still profitable - they went "under" the total 22 times and over just 15.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
The Red Raiders certainly haven't come from nowhere - they were a great 26-win team before the tournament started and won the Big 12 regular-season title. But they certainly have grabbed the imagination of people who may not have been paying attention with their strong tournament play - especially after a really disappointing early exit in the Big 12 Tournament. The NCAA Tournament has changed the betting fate of this team, too. Before March Madness the team was not profitable at 15-16-1 ATS. But they have covered all four spreads in this tournament to become profitable on the year. Their opener against Northern Kentucky was a close shave - they won by 15 as 13-point favorites. But after that they have covered very comfortably.
The Red Raiders have produced profits on the under as well on the year, going under 20 of 35 times. In the tournament they have gone under three of four times, with the most recent one against Gonzaga going over by four points. Most notably, the death march against Michigan went way under despite the number being a very low 125. Michigan's ineptness, scoring just 44 points, paved the way for that.
Along with the Spartans, the Cavaliers are the betting heavyweights of this group. At 25-11 ATS, they are not just the second-best betting team in the Final Four but the third-best betting team in the country. Their success has not come late like others here, though. They have gone just 3-4 ATS in their last seven games, so they were a much bigger betting success entering March than they are now. They are 2-2 ATS in the NCAA Tournament, and the covers have been tense - they beat Purdue by five as four-point favorites and covered by just a point and a half against Oklahoma.
There were six teams in the ACC that were profitable, and Virginia obviously led the way.
The Cavaliers were profitable on the under for the season, going under in 20 of 36 times. That is nothing unique for the ACC - 11 of the teams in the conference were profitable for the year on the under.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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