Betting Preview for the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four
The 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament has lived up to its “March Madness” moniker, delivering a slew of stunning upsets while paring 68 contenders down to the Final Four.
The matchups on either side of the bracket couldn’t be more different, one featuring a double-digit seed against a football powerhouse, and the other pitting a pair of elite top-seeds against one another.
Below you’ll find full game capsules for both Final Four games, complete with the latest lines and odds courtesy of online sportsbook Bovada.
#11 Loyola Chicago (32-5) vs. #3 Michigan (32-7) – March 31, 6:09pm ET
The tourney’s Cinderella squad this year is 11th seeded Loyola Chicago, and after the Ramblers weaved their way to winning the South Region, basketball fans may start believing in divine intervention.
A private Catholic school with enrollment under 17,000 students, Loyola Chicago rebounded from an 18-14 campaign last season to put up a 32-5 record, winning the Missouri Valley Conference. The Ramblers are riding a 14-game winning streak as they head to San Antonio, including a rousing run through the NCAA Tournament that began with a buzzer-beating three-pointer to beat #6 Miami (FL) by two in the opening round.
With their adopted mascot “Sister Jean” – the school’s beloved 98-year old Chaplain – on hand throughout, the Ramblers never looked back. They beat #3 Tennessee by one on another last-second shot, then came back from 12 down to nip #7 Nevada for their second straight one-point victory. After those theatrics, Loyola Chicago’s 16-point thrashing of #9 Kansas State offered a relative breather – and stamped the Ramblers’ ticket to the Final Four.
They’ll face #3 Michigan, as the Wolverines look to reach their second National Championship game in the last six years.
Michigan’s path to the Alamodome was a little easier, including a pair of blowout wins over #14 Montana and #7 Texas A&M. The Wolverines did find themselves on the brink of elimination facing #6 Houston in the second round, but a buzzer-beating three kept their dream alive.
Given the Ramblers are playing in their first NCAA Tournament since 1985, and the Wolverines have made multiple deep runs of late, Loyola Chicago comes in as a 5.5-point underdog. A moneyline wager on the Ramblers offers (+215), while Michigan backers get a (-255) price. And for totals bettors, the line has been set at 130.
#1 Kansas (31-7) vs. #1 Villanova (34-4) – March 31, 8:49pm ET
With a Cinderella story playing out on one side of the bracket, the East and Midwest regionals sent a pair of juggernauts through in #1 Villanova and #1 Kansas, respectively.
Villanova just tasted a national title in 2016, and after a disappointing early exit last year, head coach Jay Wright has guided the Wildcats back to the Final Four.
His counterpart on the Kansas sideline, Bill Self, put up a pair of 30-win seasons and Elite Eight runs in 2016 and 2017. But for a program that has made the tourney 16 straight seasons under Self, including a National Championship in 2008, Kansas has its sights set on a second.
Both teams are blessed with NBA caliber talent, but Villanova has been demolishing the competition. The Wildcats haven’t played a tight game all tournament, with their closest margin of victory standing at 12 points (twice) coupled with two blowouts of 20 points plus.
As for the Jayhawks, the path has been a bit more difficult, as they’ve won by just four points in each of their last three contests.
Accordingly, the books have installed Villanova as 5-point favorites, with a (-225) moneyline price. A moneyline bet on Kansas offers (+185), and the Over / Under sits at 155 points.