2016 Final Four Preview

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

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BetCRIS 2016 Final Four Preview

The second week of the NCAA Tournament was an odd one for bettors to follow. Chalk bettors found tons of success in the Sweet 16, as all of the eight better-seeded teams advanced to the Elite Eight, and favorites went 7-1 ATS in that round. It would've been understandable for bettors to follow suit over the weekend and play all of the No. 1 seeds in the Elite Eight.

However, the pups finally came out to play on Saturday and Sunday. Underdogs not only covered three of the four games, but they won three of the four as well.

That sets us up with an intriguing Final Four. On the left side of the bracket, a pair of No. 2 seeds will go to war as the Oklahoma Sooners will battle the Villanova Wildcats. On the opposite side, the Syracuse Orange, the first No. 10 seed to ever advance to the Final Four, will take on the only top seed left of the bunch, the North Carolina Tar Heels.

It would be unfair to start anywhere but the top of the bracket with North Carolina. The Tar Heels have only had one game in this tournament with a spread less than 9.5, and they haven't had a single game decided by single-digits yet. In fact, the team that truthfully put up the best fight relatively speaking was Florida Gulf Coast, as the Eagles were only down a point at halftime before falling apart in the second half.

The key for UNC is the play of Marcus Paige, a man who had a dismal regular season in his senior year. He's come to play at the right time though, and defenses have the option of scrambling after him on the perimeter or defending on the inside as best as they can against Brice Johnson and Kennedy Meeks, who are flat out bigger and more athletic than anyone they've gone up against to date in this tournament.

It's not often that you see a comfortable odds-on favorite in the Final Four to win it all, but UNC fits the bill for sure.

Villanova is the second choice right now to capture the championship, and it's a pick which makes a lot of sense. The Wildcats have the second most efficient offense in the nation, and they've had a tremendous tournament on both sides of the court.

Kansas was the team which was finally supposed to dispose of this scrappy Nova outfit, but the defense of Kris Jenkins and Ryan Arcidiacono in the backcourt was really the difference.

Still, there isn't any legitimate NBA talent on this team, and you have to go back quite some ways to find the last time a team won a title without a lottery pick on the floor.

Oklahoma surely has that lottery pick in Buddy Hield. Hield scored 36 against VCU and 37 against Oregon, and he has proven time and time again that he can just flat out take over games. The rest of the supporting cast around him hasn't been fantastic, but the job was done against the Ducks in the Elite Eight on the defensive side of the ball.

The downside to betting on the Sooners is that they rely so much on jump shooting. It isn't often that a team reaches the title game without having a true inside presence or guards which slash to the basket. Hield can do the job, but he prefers to stay on the outside. He's still the most dangerous player left in this tournament and can win the title all by himself if he closes out his collegiate career with two more massive games.

Lastly, there's Syracuse, the team which many felt shouldn't have even been invited to this tournament. The season has been tumultuous for the 'Cuse, as Jim Boeheim was suspended for nine games in the middle of the year, a stretch in which they were horrid.

Even though the bracket really opened up for the Orange, it was still hard to see this coming. Boeheim's boys were in such bad shape coming into the tourney, but a first round win over Dayton really setup what has become an epic run to the Final Four.

Malachi Richardson had to pour everything that he had into arguably the most notable comeback in Syracuse history against Virginia. The Cavaliers were up by 15 points late in the second half when the Orange turned up the pressure, forced some turnovers and ultimately got back in the game. Richardson knocked down some big shots along the way, and he and Trevor Cooney are going to be crucial on both sides of the court if the Orange have two more upsets in them this week in Houston.

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