Wolverines, Wildcats Huge Favorites
Seats will be hard to come by at the Bellagio sports book on Saturday.
It’s March Madness and the Final Four. The last few teams left standing meet in San Antonio to decide the NCAA men’s college basketball champion. Michigan is a -255 favorite to end Loyola-Chicago’s Cinderella story, while Villanova is the pick on the betting line at -225 to knock off Kansas (odds provided by Bovada).
There are two games on Saturday with the national championship on Monday night.
The Wildcats are the most recent winner, capturing the title in 2016. Kansas last won in 2008, while Michigan last hoisted the trophy 29 years ago in 1989. Many would think that little-known Loyola-Chicago has never been to the promised land before, but the Ramblers won it all 55 years ago in 1963.
Here we go. It’s time for the tipoff. Let’s try to pick the two finalists for Monday’s championship.
Loyola On An Amazing Run
(11) Loyola-Chicago vs. (3) Michigan — The amazing run by the Missouri Valley Conference champions has given a huge boost to mid-major schools.
In the first three games of the tournament, the Ramblers (32-5) have won by a total of four points. The Wolverines (32-7) have shown signs of brilliance and spurts of vulnerability.
Both teams have needed miracle finishes to get this far — a three-pointer at the buzzer for Michigan, multiple prayers for Loyola-Chicago.
This is the fourth time since 1985 a No. 11 seed has advanced to the Final Four. The first three were all eliminated here.
VGB’s pick — Michigan (-255)
Wildcats Must Halt Top Shooter
(1) Kansas vs. (1) Villanova — Since 2005, the Jayhawks (31-7) are the 10th team to win their Elite 8 game in overtime. Seven of the previous nine lost their next game and none won the national championship.
This is the 15th Final Four for Kansas and its first since 2012. The Wildcats (34-4) are 3-3 in six Final Four games in school history.
Malik Newman has brought his game to a new level in the tournament for the Jayhawks. His 13 three-pointers are the most in the field, with all of them coming in the last three games. He has averaged 21.8 points per game.
The Wildcats’ well-balanced offense had five players in double digits against Texas Tech and four against West Virginia. Jalen Brunson poured in 27 points against the Mountaineers.
VGB’s pick — Villanova
Alternative Betting Lines Galore
These games have a lot more to offer gamblers than just the usual money line, point spread or over/under totals.
First-half betting lines, alternative point spreads, the team to score first, the team to score 10 points first — you can even try to select the winning margin of victory.
For example, if you like the Jayhawks to beat the Wildcats by three to six points, the betting line is +650. That means, if you bet $100 on this option, and Kansas wins 76-73, you would cash a winning ticket for $750 ($100 bet plus $650 profit).
Four Finalists, Four Different States
Four different states are represented in the national semifinals. There will be celebrations in two of them come Saturday night.
- Illinois — The Loyola-Chicago Ramblers come from a private Catholic research school located in Chicago, Ill.
- Kansas — The Kansas Jayhawks are from Lawrence, Ks., which is about 40 miles west of Kansas City.
- Michigan — The Michigan Wolverines are from Ann Arbor, Mich., which is about 40 miles west of Detroit.
- Pennsylvania — The Villanova Wildcats play their home games in Villanova, Pa., which is about 25 miles northwest of Philadelphia.
VGB’s Top 10 NCAA Basketball Teams
(Current odds to win the men’s NCAA basketball championship listed after team record. Odds provided by Bovada.)
- Villanova (34-4) +100 — Fourth straight double-digit victory in tourney.
- Michigan (32-7) +250 — First Final Four berth for team since 2013.
- Kansas (31-7) +325 — Newman scored all 13 OT points to oust Duke.
- Loyola-Chicago (32-5) +900 — Could become first No. 11 to reach final.
- Duke (29-8) — Blue Devils might see four freshman stars bolt for NBA.
- Texas Tech (27-10) — Elite Eight team for first time in program history.
- Purdue (30-7) — Boilermakers commit 17 turnovers in loss to Raiders.
- West Virginia (26-11) — ‘Nova hit 50% of threes to oust Mountaineers.
- Gonzaga (32-5) — 16-game winning streak snapped by Florida State.
- Virginia (31-3) — Cavaliers were most popular pick to win tournament.