NCAA Final Four: Games that fit the trends

March 29, 2022 07:52 PM
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There are only three games left in the NCAA Tournament, but those three games account for one of the more intriguing Final Fours in recent memory. 

The four teams left might not make up the best quartet we’ve seen, but they are four of the most storied programs in college basketball history. In fact, they are arguably the most successful tournament teams of this century. Three of the four coaches are legends, and the fourth just replaced one at the start of the season.

Of course, with this level of hype comes the usual urging of caution. Recreational bettors will be investing heavily over the final two days of the tournament, and that adds a whole different element to the betting strategies needed to win. VSiN’s Josh Appelbaum, who studies the art of contrarian betting, figures to be a valuable resource come Saturday.

With that in mind, I’ll wrap up my three-week series on qualifying all of the trends from VSiN’s NCAA Tournament guide. Hopefully, I’m able to pull out a few good nuggets for the Final Four and potential title-game matchups. You’ll also notice I’ve added some head-to-head data for Saturday’s games, which will be extra important since the opponents are very familiar with one another.

I’ll start off with some of the key conference trends I was able to find. All trend records are from NCAA Tournament games only and have not been updated to include 2022 results. Here are Saturday’s matchups and some relevant information for the trends:

Game 1: Kansas -4.5 (No. 1 seed from the Big 12) vs. Villanova + 4.5 (No. 2 seed from the Big East).

Game 2: Duke -4 (No. 2 seed from the ACC) vs. North Carolina + 4 (No. 8 seed from the ACC).

Conference trends

ACC

— ACC teams are 10-4 SU and 9-5 ATS (64.3%) since 2001, including 8-1 SU and 6-3 ATS when favored.

Qualifying team: Duke.

— In two ACC vs. ACC matchups in the Final Four since 2001, favorites are 2-0 SU and ATS, winning by double digits both times.

Qualifying team: Duke.

— Duke is 4-1 SU and ATS in its last five national semifinals, while UNC is 4-2 SU and 3-3 ATS in its last six.

Big 12

— Big 12 teams are 7-4 to the Over in the national semifinals since 2002, including 5-1 when favored.

Qualifying game: Kansas-Villanova.

— Kansas is 3-1 SU and ATS in its last four national semifinals, with its only loss coming as a 5-point underdog to Villanova in 2018.

Big East

— Big East teams were on a 12-9 SU and 15-6 ATS (71.4%) run versus Big 12 teams in the NCAA Tournament, but they’re 0-3 SU and 2-1 ATS in 2022.

Qualifying team: Villanova.

— Villanova has scored exactly 95 points in its last two national semifinals, winning by 16 and 44 points (2018 and 2016). 

— Favorites are 27-14 ATS (65.9%) in the last 41 NCAA Tournament games involving Big East teams.

Qualifying team: Against Villanova.

— Big East underdogs in the national semifinals are 1-4 SU and 1-3-1 ATS in their last five. Four of the five games went Under the total.

Qualifying team: Against Villanova.

Round by round

Final Four

— Outright winners in the national semifinals are 32-6-2 ATS (84.2%) since 2001.

— No. 1 seeds against lower-seeded teams are 16-5 SU and 11-9-1 ATS (55%) since 2001.

Qualifying team: Kansas

— On totals, the last seven games with a number of 130 points or fewer went Under. In all other games, totals are 21-14-2 to the Over (60%) since 1999.

Qualifying games: Overs in both games Saturday.

— Over the total is on a 9-4-1 (69.2%) run in the last seven tournaments.

Qualifying games: Overs in both games Saturday.

Championship game

— Title-game favorites of 3 points or more are on a 12-3 SU and 11-4 ATS (73.3%) run, while favorites of 2.5 or fewer are 4-4 SU and ATS since 1998. 

Potential qualifying games: Duke (vs. Villanova) and Kansas (vs. UNC).

— Only once in the last 21 years did the outright winner of the championship game fail to cover the spread (Duke against Butler in 2010).

— The higher seed is on an 11-3 SU and 10-4 ATS (71.4%) run.

Potential qualifying games: Duke (vs. Villanova) and Kansas (vs. UNC).

— Teams seeded 3 or lower (not counting the 7-8 matchup in 2014) are on a 2-8 SU and 3-7 ATS (30%) slide.

Potential qualifying team: Against North Carolina. 

— Big East teams are 6-0 SU and ATS since 2001.

Potential qualifying team: Villanova.

Head-to-head angles

Kansas vs. Villanova 

The most recent Kansas-Villanova matchup was played in 2019 at Villanova. The Wildcats won 56-55 as 2-point underdogs. It was Villanova’s fifth straight ATS win over the Jayhawks (4-1 SU). Including a 2008 Sweet 16 game, the Under has hit in five of the last six matchups.

Duke vs. North Carolina

The North Carolina-Duke rivalry is a storied one, but this is the first time these teams have met in the NCAA Tournament. This has been a high-scoring series of late, with the last six matchups all going Over the total. Interestingly, though, in the last four neutral-court matchups, the Under is 3-1. North Carolina is 4-2 ATS in the most recent six-game span (3-3 SU), and 8-2 ATS in the last 10 matchups. Favorites and underdogs have been split at 8-8-1 ATS since 2016.

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