We’ve already published a couple of March Madness betting articles (Article 1 | Article 2) about the Saturday showdowns between Kansas and Villanova, and between Duke and North Carolina, as we are set for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s Final Four. We like Kansas to win and cover, thanks to a crucial injury in Villanova’s starting lineup, but in the second game, we like Duke to win – but North Carolina to cover, and it would not surprise us if the Tar Heels won straight up. With that kind of doubt surrounding the outcome, we can’t really run a parlay with it. So how can you put up a parlay on Saturday’s action? Here are our suggestions.
NCAA News: Final Four Parlay Picks
Kansas / Villanova UNDER 132 points & Duke / UNC OVER 151 points
Let’s break down the first matchup first. Both Kansas and Villanova play elite team defense. Villanova runs a slow, methodical offensive game and also has a grinding defense that reduces the pace on the other end. Wildcat opponents have shot 37.3% from the floor for the year. Kansas’ defense has been even more stifling, keeping opponents at a 34.1% shooting percentage. Without Justin Moore, the Wildcats could struggle even more to get points – and that’s after a 50-point performance against Houston in the Elite Eight.
→ Here are Villanova’s scores in the postseason so far, in reverse chronological order:
Villanova 50, Houston 44 (Elite Eight): 94 total points
Villanova 63, Michigan 55 (Sweet 16): 118
Villanova 71, Ohio State 61 (2nd Round): 132
Villanova 80, Delaware 60 (1st Round): 140
Villanova 54, Creighton 48 (Big East Championship): 102
Villanova 63, Connecticut 60 (Big East Semifinals): 123
Villanova 66, St. John’s 65 (Big East Quarterfinals): 131
So in seven games, the point total has broken 131 twice, and in one case the game only reache one more point. The outlier is the 20-point win over 15-seed Delaware.
What’s the lesson? Villanova plays a grinding pace, keeping teams from generating much on offense – and limiting the total number of possessions. Kansas should be able to win this game, and cover the four-point spread, but Villanova will keep things slow enough to where the pace will keep the game under the point total. Remember – Kansas only put up 29 points in the first half against Miami – a team that does not have nearly the defensive chops that Villanova does. The Jayhawks did break out in the second half, but Villanova has a better defensive scheme – and enough height to challenge Kansas in the paint.
→Now, what about Duke / North Carolina? Let’s break down their postseason games
Duke 78, Arkansas 69 (Elite Eight): 147
Duke 78, Texas Tech 73 (Sweet 16): 151
Duke 85, Michigan State 76 (2nd Round): 161
Duke 78, Cal State Fullerton 61 (1st Round): 139
Virginia Tech 82, Duke 67 (ACC Tournament Final): 149
Duke 80, Miami (FL) 76 (ACC Tournament Semifinal): 156
Duke 88, Syracuse 79 (ACC Tournament Quarterfinal): 167
Duke has only failed to break the 151-point total for the North Carolina game three times in their last seven games. One came in a laugher of a first-round win that saw Duke’s bench empty. Another came in a loss in the ACC tournament finals, when Duke’s shooting fell off the table, and the third came in a win over an Arkansas team with a grinding defense. North Carolina does not have a grinding defense.
In fact, when North Carolina visited Duke in the regular season finale, that game produced 175 points in a 94-81 Tar Heel win. When the two teams met earlier in the season, the 87-67 Duke win produced 154 points. Let’s look at North Carolina’s postseason record to this point:
UNC 69, Saint Peter’s 49 (Elite Eight): 118
UNC 73, UCLA 66 (Sweet 16): 139
UNC 93, Baylor 86 (2nd Round): 179
UNC 95, Marquette 63 (1st Round): 158
Virginia Tech 72, UNC 59 (ACC Tournament Semifinal): 131
UNC 63, Virginia 43 (ACC Tournament Quarterfinal): 106
The Tar Heels have gone over except when playing teams with grinding defenses (UCLA, Virginia) or laughers that saw a lot of bench players getting time (Saint Peter’s) or losses. Given the track record in Duke-UNC matchups, I’m calling for an “over” here as well.
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