Final Four Preview

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March Madness has truly lived up to its billing this year and the Final Four is set. Big guns Villanova and Kansas will face off and play the winner of No. 11 Loyola-Chicago versus No. 3 Michigan. Let’s see how these teams arrived and check out the basketball odds board to win it all.

No. 1 Villanova (34-4 SU, 26-12 ATS)

College Basketball Odds to Win the National Championship: -102

The Wildcats are exactly where many predicted they would be at this stage of the tournament. Villanova ended the regular season as the No. 2 team in the nation, trailing only Virginia, and earned the top seed in the East Region after claiming the Big East title for the second consecutive year. The Cats have won nine straight and failed to cover the number in only two, the second of which was their 76-66 overtime victory over Providence in the conference title game as 13-point favorites.

Entering the Big Dance, Villanova was pitted against No. 16 Radford as a whopping 22 ½ point favorite and once again brought home the cash for all those who backed them in their college basketball picks when they drew away to an 87-61 victory. Villanova then squared off against No. 9 Alabama and crushed the Tide 81-58 as 11 ½ point chalk. In the Sweet 16, the Wildcats won by double digits again with a 90-78 win over No. 5 West Virginia. Their Elite Eight opponents, No. 3 Texas Tech, was also no match for the Villanova juggernaut as they fell 71-59 as six-point underdogs.

Villanova has won two national titles in their history (1985 and 2016) and will face their sternest test yet when they take on the Kansas Jayhawks this Saturday night at 8:49 PM ET on TBS. As of this writing, the Wildcats are 5 to 5 ½ point favorites over the Jayhawks.

No. 1 Kansas (31-7 SU, 21-16 ATS)

College Basketball Odds to Win the National Championship: +400

Kansas was ranked ninth in the nation before the conference tournaments began but after they tore through their Big 12 opponents and captured the conference title, they were rewarded with the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region. The Jayhawks have not breezed through this tournament like their opponents on Saturday night, Villanova, and as such find themselves in the position of playing the role of the underdog for their second consecutive game.

The Jayhawks have won their last seven straight but are a pedestrian 2-2 against the spread in the tournament with wins over No. 16 U Penn (76-60), No. 8 Seton Hall (83-79), No. 5 Clemson (80-76), and lastly, a thrilling overtime 85-81 win over Duke as 3 ½ point dogs.

The all-time series between Kansas and Villanova is knotted at three with the last meeting taking place in 2016 when they met in the Elite Eight. Villanova prevailed 64-59 and went on to claim the national championship. The Jayhawks have three national titles on their resume winning in 1952, 1988, and 2008.

No. 3 Michigan (32-7 SU, 24-13 ATS)

College Basketball Odds to Win the National Championship: +260

Michigan ended the regular season ranked seventh in the nation and then went on to strafe the competition in the Big Ten tournament, culminating in a 75-66 win over Purdue as four-point neutral site underdogs to capture their second conference title in a row. Therefore, their relatively low seed as the No. 3 team in the West Region raised a few eyebrows but the Wolverines were undeterred by the lack of confidence shown by the so-called experts.

The 13th seeded Montana Grizzlies were no match for the Wolverines in the opening round and fell 61-47 as 10-point dogs. In the following round, freshman Jordan Poole sunk a long three at the buzzer to give Michigan a heart-stopping 64-63 win over the sixth-seeded Houston Cougars. The Wolverines rebounded from their near elimination to punish No. 7 Texas A&M to the tune of a 99-72 in the Sweet 16. Advancing into the Elite Eight, Michigan was installed as four-point favorites over No. 9 Florida State and played hardcore defense en route to a 58-54 victory which propelled them into the Final Four.

This is the eighth Final Four appearance in school history and Michigan is hoping to enter the tournament finals for the first time since 2013 when they came up short to Louisville. The Wolverines lone NCAA men’s basketball title trophy must be getting a bit dusty as it has been

nearly 30 years since that championship season. Michigan will take on No. 11 Loyola-Chicago at 6:07 PM ET this Saturday night and is currently installed as five-point favorites.

No. 11 Loyola-Chicago (32-5 SU, 24-9 ATS)

College Basketball Odds to Win the National Championship: +1250

The Cinderella story of this tournament belongs to the Loyola Ramblers but instead of Prince Charming and a glass slipper, they have a godmother named Sister Jean in a bad ass habit. The 98-year-old nun has been plucked from obscurity due to her school’s stunning run through the tournament and has become a mainstream media darling. She has been the team chaplain for nearly 25 years and has been affiliated with Loyola for more than fifty.

Whether it’s a higher power or just a group of teenagers and 20-somethings that caught fire at the right time, Loyola is making their first Final Four appearance since 1963 when they won their first and only national title. The Missouri Valley Conference champs were seeded 11th in the South Region and weren’t even included in the Top 25 at the end of the regular season. The Ramblers are only the fourth No. 11 seed to make it into the Final Four.

Loyola-Chicago has won 21 of its last 22 games and is a staggering 17-4 ATS over that span. The Ramblers defeated No. 6 Miami 64-62 in the opening round and then stunned No. 3 Tennessee with a prayer jump shot that rattled around the rim and miraculously fell through the net with a little over three seconds left to lift them to a 63-62 win over the Hurricanes.

Their trip into the Sweet 16 was supposed to be the end of this feel-good story but their improbable – or perhaps impossible – run continued with another white-knuckled win over Nevada by the score of 69-68. Vaulted into the Elite Eight, the Ramblers were more than ready as they dispatched the Kansas State Wildcats with all the swagger of a No. 1 seed in a 78-62 rout. Those who read a preview of that game at SBR Picks would have cashed big-time. The Impossible Dream continues on Saturday night as they take on Michigan in the first of a Final Four doubleheader.

Written by SportsBook Review