If you had Loyola, Michigan, Villanova and Kansas in your Final Four bracket, you are a basketball betting guru. This tournament has provided more upsets than ever before and there is a high potential for that trend to continue in the Final Four. If you look at USA sportsbook sites, Michigan and Villanova are favored to win by a close margin. However, Kansas and Loyola can make it to the championship if they play their cards right.
The Loyola-Michigan game is up first—6:09 p.m. EST. The last time #11 Loyola made it this far in the tournament (1962-1963) they won the championship. Their keys to winning have been their defense and teamwork-based offense. Their first 3 games came down to the wire and were won on buzzer-beaters, showcasing their grit and toughness over the course of 40 minutes. While Michigan is a defensive team, Loyola has been statistically better throughout the tournament. Part of their success is that Loyola opts for set defenses over forcing transition coverage. This forces opponents to take on their full defensive set up on each possession. All of Loyola’s players are floaters in the sense that they can score from anywhere. They can move through the court with ease and work off of screens and pick-and-rolls effectively. This gives Michigan’s defense a tough job.
Michigan has been dominant throughout most of the tournament. However, they showed their flaws against Houston and Florida State. If their offense doesn’t get going, Loyola may take advantage. However, Michigan’s strength is in their defense. They have 3 major defenders in Xavier Simpson, Charles Matthews and Muhammad-Ali Abdur Rahkman, all of which help out offensively as well. Their aggressiveness on defense could help out against the smaller Loyola. In other words, they may be able to bully their way to the championship game.
Kansas-Villanova is the later game (8:49 p.m. EST) and has a championship feel to it. These 2 #1 seeds are both fantastic 3-point shooting teams, meaning they can bury opponents quickly. Villanova has Jalen Brunson, one of the best players (if not the best) right now. Brunson is averaging 19.2 points right now. Mikal Bridges is right behind him with 17.8 points. In fact, Nova has the top scoring offense in the nation right now and have put up at least 80 points in 6 of their last 8 games. However, they haven’t had as much of a struggle as Kansas, which could come back to haunt them.
The Jayhawks have scored 80 points in 6 of their last 7 games. They are coming off an overtime win thriller against Duke, so they have more of a momentum swing in their favor right now. Kansas’ Malik Newman has been their postseason star, though Devonte Graham, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Udoka Azubuike all get honorable mentions. The Jayhawks run a fast-paced offense with 3-point shots, drives and lobs. With so many offensive options, they can be a tough team to guard. Villanova needs to lockdown Newman and Graham while pulling Azubuike out of his preferred spot in the paint. By taking away these key players, they may be able to overcome the Jayhawks offensively.
Both of these teams can go on long runs, meaning a lead doesn’t mean you are out of the woods yet. Villanova has shown their discipline through 40 minutes, but they haven’t been tested with a team like Kansas yet. This game will be the more exciting of the 2.
If you are partaking in Final Four basketball betting, consider the over bet in the Kansas-Villanova game. As for picking an outright winner, both games could go either way. You can bet on Loyola’s Cinderella story or Michigan’s defense. You can bet on Kansas’s passion or Villanova’s offensive control. In any case, this Final Four should be an exciting fixture in March Madness history.