Final Four Facts and Figures - The Best & Worst of the NCAAs



The big muckety-mucks in Las Vegas have spoken as we head into the NCAA Tournament's Final Four weekend ...

The current "Odds to Win it All" lists mighty Kentucky as a - 120 favorite (or 6-to-5, if you will) to cop this year's national title while Wisconsin and Duke each are listed as 7-to-2 betting favorites to win it all with Michigan State at 8-to-1.

Yes, just a couple of weeks back when this tourney first started, the M-State Spartans were actually priced at 100-to-1 and that's pretty comparable - you'll recall - to Connecticut being an 80-to-1 favorite last year at the start of the tourney.

The then-7th-seeded UConn Huskies won it all and bagged some longshot bettors a nifty basket filled with greenbacks ... might now-7th-seeded Michigan State be ready to do likewise?
Here's a little rundown of the Final Four teams with a reminder that later this week we'll bang out our Jim Sez Game Previews for the Saturday showdowns - that's Michigan State versus Duke and Kentucky versus Wisconsin - so don't miss out as we'll include key charts and lots of goodies. 

This Final Four showdown/rematch against Wisconsin will mark the first time this tournament that John Calipari's club is a single-digit betting favorite as the price tag on this one dipped from UK Wildcats favored by 6.5 points to 5 points faster than you could say Adolph Rupp and so naturally there will be folks that believe the 'Cats are a veritable "bargain" here after failing to cover three of their first four "Big Dance" games this spring.

Note that Kentucky is a modest 19-17-2 ATS (against the spread) overall this year while "under" players have gone 23-15 spreadwise in these 'Cat games.

Key Stat - Can Kentucky win this Saturday (and Monday) by nailing just four triples in a game? That's what happened in last Saturday's epic 68-66 non-cover win against 11-point pup Notre Dame - yes, we realize the Wildcats won that game because paint presence Karl-Anthony Towns (25 points) was downright unstoppable facing mostly single coverage -- but gotta believe the SEC champs need more than a handful of trifectas to get "mission accomplished" here and remember the Harrison twins combined for just one trey altogether in that battle versus Notre Dame.

THE "OTHER" #1 SEEDS - WISCONSIN (35-3) and DUKE (33-4)
The co-secondary favorites to win it all zoom into the Final Four off heady wins last weekend as Wisconsin bagged an 85-78 win against 1.5-point fav Arizona while Duke held off gritty 1.5-point dog Gonzaga 66-52 - and both the Badgers and the Blue Devils showed major mettle/toughness in the final few minutes of their respective Elite 8 wins.

Let's take Wisconsin, first: Bo Ryan's team managed to pull away late despite the fact Arizona shot an eye-popping 24-of-43 from the field (that's 55.8 percent) as the aforementioned three-ball was key with Wisconsin's Sam Dekker keying a 12-of-18 team shooting effort from beyond the arc. Dekker's 5-of-6 makes - some from outside the surrounding Los Angeles suburbs - had folks reminiscing about a dude named Larry Bird and maybe the only way Wisky beats Kentucky this weekend is with another lights-out beyond-the-arc showing. We shall see!

P.S., Wisconsin enters Final Four play at 20-17-1 ATS this year and note "under" players in their games are 20-18 vig-wise.

On the flip side, much was made regarding the fact Duke committed just two turnovers in that Elite 8 win against Gonzaga but how about the fact that the Blue Devils' guards wound up with the following stat line: 41 points, 11 rebounds, 8 assists and 0 turnovers!

Duke is 22-14-1 spreadwise this year and the "over" players own a slight 18-17 pointspread advantage.

Key Stats - Count us among the folks that liked the fact all five Duke starters put up double-digit shot attempts from the field last weekend versus Gonzaga as Dookie head coach Mike Krzyzewski can't afford to put all of his pre-Easter eggs in the baskets of C Jahlil Okafor and Justise Winslow (note just a combined 8-of-22 from the floor last Sunday). As for Wisconsin, let's go on the record to stat the Badgers' bench must be a real positive factor here after producing just one made FG in 30 man-minutes against Arizona.

Okay, so you know that when head coach Tom Izzo takes his Spartans onto the floor for their seventh Final Four appearance since 1999 it'll be a major moment of pride for a Big 10 Conference that spent much of this 2014-15 hoops season forced to defend itself from nationwide critics - but, heck, Izzo himself suggested the other day that he was not thinking "Final Four" back in early-to-mid February and yet the lone non-#1 seed still standing in this man's tourney was a better-than-you-think "investment" this year as Michigan State enters Final Four play at 22-16 with a side note that "over" players are 20-15-2 in Spartans' games this season.

Key Stat - Speaking of Big 10 bench production, how about the fact that the Spartans' reserves registered 26 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists in last Sunday's 76-70 overtime win against 2-point dog Louisville? Okay, so with all the deserved praise heaped on the likes of G Travis Trice (17 points) and Denzell Valentine (15 points) the bench brigade starring smooth-stroking G Bryn Forbes (14 points versus the 'Ville) was superb.

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have been steamrolling their way through the month of March with loads of College Basketball winners and it ain't gonna stop yet now that we're ready to hit April! Get in now on the NCAA Tournament's Final Four, the NIT Championship Game on Thursday night plus the remaining CBI and CIT Tournies too - go here online or call our exclusive toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 and we'll send you straight into the winner's circle. Hey, we're also banging out lots of NBA Winners too these days and so go ahead and join the fun and profits today with all the hardwood action this month.

Here's the still-alive conferences/leagues as we head into Final Four weekend:

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Folks, for an NCAA Tournament that started out with two monumental upsets among its first three finals (see UAB over 14.5-point fav Iowa State and Georgia State over 9.5-point favorite Baylor) the fact of the matter is there were only seven other "upsets" since those games and only one really was grand in stature as N.C. State knocked off and knocked out 10-point fav Villanova in a Round of 32 game.

Guess when you come upon a Final Four in which three of the No. 1 seeds survive tell you it's been "form-ful" but we'd like to let you know heading into this weekend NCAA Betting Favorites are 29-34-0 with one pick 'em game (that was Wichita State 78, Kansas 65 - a big Jim Hurley Network winner!) and so the dogs have "clinched" a winning record this tourney ...

Best Game of the Tourney - Kentucky's electric Elite 8 win against Notre Dame was easily the best start-to-finish game in this year's NCAA Tournament and can those Irish-haters "cool it" when it comes to criticizing some late-game maneuvers? Mike Brey's club played a near-flawless game and won despite only netting four triples - now who thought that could have happened if one was gonna beat Kentucky?

Worst Game of the Tourney - Iowa's 83-52 win against Davidson in "second-round" play either proved the Big 10 was a better-than-you-thought league right then and there or it showed that Davidson's first-place finish in the Atlantic-10 was a major mirage.

Best Moment of the Tourney - Hands down it's when Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter fell off his sideline stool following the game-winning bucket by his son R.J. in that aforementioned win against Baylor. Okay, the TV honchos squeezed every bit of "magic" from that Georgia State win (although gotta say Hunter the coach was great in the TV studio last weekend and a whole lot better than those frauds named Barkley, Smith and Kellogg!).

Worst Moment of the Tourney - Watching the poor West Virginia kids and head coach Bob Huggins cringe after getting behind 18-2 in last week's Sweet 16 game against Kentucky. Final score ... Kentucky 78, West Virginia 39 and it could have been worse.

NOTE: More NCAA Tournament Final Four News & Notes in the next edition of Jim Sez.


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