On three games remain in the college basketball season, two in Saturday night’s Final Four. Time for one last hurrah before we many of us go into our bunkers until football season, poking our heads out occasionally for baseball, hockey and basketball.
My Elite Eight picks went 2-2 ATS, bringing my NCAA tournament record to 33-26-1.
All spreads taken Friday afternoon from the consensus odds at VegasInsider.com. All times ET.
First, anyone considering betting on the totals should take a look at Greg Guglielmo’s examination of scoring in games played in domes where the court is placed in the center of the floor, which is the configuration that will be used in Glendale, Ariz., on Saturday. The three main takeaways:
— Teams take fewer three-pointers in such games but make a higher percentage of them.
— Teams take more two-pointers in such games but make a lower percentage of them
— Teams are worse at free throws, which solely accounts for such dome games having lower scoring, along with the fact that the teams who advance so far as to play in big domes usually are pretty stout, defensively.
— Free throw numbers for the four remaining teams: Gonzaga 71.8 percent (19.8 percent of its points come from FTs), North Carolina 70.6 percent (18.7 percent of its points come from FTs), South Carolina 70 percent (23 percent of its points come from FTs), Oregon 70 percent (17.6 percent of its points come from FTs).
Gonzaga (-7) vs. South Carolina
Moneylines: Gonzaga -280, South Carolina +240.
Time, TV: 6:09 p.m. Saturday, CBS.
— The spread has ticked up a half-point from -6.5, where it resided for most of the week, even though the underdog Gamecocks have received 54 percent of the spread bets, according to Sports Insights. This could be a sign that bigger money is coming in on the Bulldogs.
— The usual warning about trendy underdogs applies: Underdogs who have received more than 50 percent of the spread bets have gone 6-12-2 ATS during the tournament.
— As you can see from the free throw numbers above, the Gamecocks are (by a pretty wide margin) the team that most relies upon foul shots for points, and teams usually shoot worse from the line in big domes. Plus, Gonzaga doesn’t foul a whole lot on average — getting whistled on just 23 percent of its possessions, among the lowest rates in the nation — while still maintaining the top defense in the country in terms of points allowed per 100 possessions.
— Final Four underdogs that are coming off four straight ATS wins, like South Carolina, are 4-13-1 ATS.
Pick: Gonzaga -7.
North Carolina (-5) vs. Oregon
Moneylines: North Carolina -220, Oregon +180.
Time, TV: Approx. 8:49 p.m. Saturday, CBS.
— The under is 5-2 in Oregon’s last seven NCAA tournament games and 4-1 in its last five games as an underdog.
— The betting was even as of Friday afternoon, with a 50/50 split on the spread bets.
— North Carolina collects the rebound on a higher percentage of its own missed shots than any team in the country: 40.9 percent. On the flip side, Oregon gets the rebound on 73.9 percent of its opponent’s misses, which isn’t all that great.
— Small sample size, but Oregon is 3-0 ATS as an underdog this year, winning two of the games outright (vs. UCLA in the regular season and Kansas last weekend).
Pick: Oregon +5.