March Madness: The Final Four
And then there were four - and it’s not the four many, if any, people would have predicted.
With two No. 5 seeds making it to the Final Four this has been one of the most upset-laden tournaments in recent memory. The lone No. 1 seed left standing is Duke, and at most sportsbooks they’re the current favorite to cut down the nets when all is said and done.
The Duke Blue Devils have looked pretty good during their journey to the Final Four and surprisingly they’ve been a very profitable pick for bettors. Duke is not only 4-0 SU in the tourney, but they’re also a perfect 4-0 ATS.
They maintained their perfect record by knocking off Baylor 78-71 in the Elite Eight as a 5-point favorite at Bovada. Nolan Smith had quite a game in the win, with a game-high 29 points and a hot 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range.
Duke will have their hands full in the Final Four against a roaring West Virginia team. The Mountaineers have also been a bettor’s best friend in the tourney with their own perfect 4-0 ATS mark. They delivered a big upset in the Elite Eight by sending No. 1 seed Kentucky packing after a 73-66 win as 4-point underdogs.
Da’Sean Butler continued to add to his legend in the win with 18 points and 4-of-6 shooting from three-point range. Joe Mazzulla also came up big with 17 points and Kevin Jones poured in 13 points with a solid 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
The Mountaineers are in the Final Four for the first time since 1959 when Jerry West was making a name for himself. That 1959 squad was the only West Virginia team to make it to the tournament finals, but for the 2010 team to join them they’ll need to upset Duke as a 2.5-point underdog.
In the other Final Four matchup the upset specials collide when No. 5 seed Butler Bulldogs meets up with fellow No. 5 seed Michigan State.
It’s been a dream tournament for both schools so far, but one of them is going to have to wake up on Saturday. The Bulldogs have been unbelievable in back-to-back upset wins over No. 1 Syracuse and No. 2 Kansas State.
The Bulldogs knocked off the Wildcats in the Elite Eight with a 63-56 upset as 4-point underdogs. Butler was deadly from three-point range, hitting 7-of-15 from downtown. Gordon Hayward poured in 22 points to go with nine rebounds, and Shelvin Mack tossed in 16 points.
The shorthanded Spartans delivered their own miracle in the Elite Eight with a 70-69 win over Tennessee as 2-point underdogs. Raymar Morgan dropped in the game-winning free throws with just over a second left on the clock and finished up with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Durrell Summers made everyone forget about the injured Kalin Lucas with a masterful 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting, which included 4-of-6 from three-point range.
Even after the Spartans triumphed in the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight the absence of Lucas still appears to be on the oddsmakers’ minds, because Butler is the favorite. It’s not by much, but the Bulldogs are 1.5-point chalk at Bovada.