Tournament Championship: Betting Preview
It's a dogfight in the final of the Big Dance as the Butler Bulldogs get set to battle the Connecticut Huskies in the NCAA Tournament Championship Game on Monday night.
The Bulldogs, astonishingly, are back in the tournament final for the second year in a row. A year ago they stormed all the way to the final as a No. 5 seed before coming up just short against Duke, 61-59 as a 7-point underdog. [ Prop odds on how many points Kemba Walker or Shelvin Mack will score and hundreds more fun wagers, along with a 100% bonus, see it at Bovada ]
Butler wasn't supposed to be able to repeat last year's performance. As a No. 8 seed and without last year's tournament star Gordon Hayward, an NBA lottery pick, the Bulldogs have been the underdog in all of their games except their Final Four showdown with fellow upstart Virginia Commonwealth.
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On their way to meeting the Rams in the Final Four the Bulldogs posted upsets over Old Dominion (+1.5), Pittsburgh (+8), Wisconsin (+4.5), and Florida (+4).
In the Final Four they finally received favored status as 3.5-point chalk against the Rams. The Bulldogs didn't deliver a great offensive performance, shooting only 36%, but their defense held the Rams in check enough to come away with a 70-62 win.
Shelvin Mack led the Bulldogs with 24 points and Matt Howard added 17 points while shooting a poor 3-of-10. Zach Mahn may have only scored eight points in the win but they may well have been the most important eight points in the game, coming in less than two minutes to bolster the Bulldogs' lead.
The Connecticut Huskies are in the tournament final for the first time since winning a national title in 2004. Their drive to the final may not have been as epic as Butler's, but it was still pretty amazing.
UConn's run began in the Big East Tournament, where they swept through arguably the toughest conference in the nation with five wins in five days. Their first stop in the NCAA Tournament was an easy 81-52 drubbing of Bucknell as a 10.5-point favorite, followed by another win and cover as 4-point chalk over Cincinnati (69-58). [ Best Butler underdogs odds is +3.5, -110 at Bovada (last day for their 100% bonus) and Sports Interaction (with a $125 bonus offer as well) ]
Their first upset came against San Diego State 74-67 as a 2-point underdog, and they were the favorite again in the Elite Eight, taking out Arizona 65-63 as 3.5-point chalk.
In the Final Four the Huskies were the dogs again against the Kentucky Wildcats at +2.5. Kemba Walker, who had carried the Huskies on his back through the Big East Tournament and the Big Dance, delivered what UConn needed again with 18 points, six rebounds, and seven assists.
Jeremy Lamb added 12 points and nine rebounds, and Alex Oriakhi put up his usual line with eight points and 10 boards.
In the final the oddsmakers at Sportsbook.ag have set the Huskies as a 3.5-point favorite with the total at 128.5. Butler is 4-0 SU and ATS as an underdog in the tournament so far and they're 10-1 in their last 11 tournament games overall. If Butler can keep that streak going they could become the most surprising national champion of all time.
Totals bettors may also want to examine the trends. The Huskies are 4-1 UNDER during their tournament run, while the Bulldogs are 7-3-1 UNDER in their last 11 tournament games.