It’s still a day away, but my keyboard is tingling, so we’re gonna jump right into the Final Four.
Start with the late game and grab Syracuse plus 9.5 points over North Carolina. Of course, we would suggest that you buy the hook, and push this line up to plus-10 if you have that option with your guy. We do, and we will.
Jim Boeheim’s nine-game suspension for impermissible benefits, academic misconduct, drug-policy missteps and a failure by the school to control its athletics department seems to have lit a fire under the Orange. Kinda an “us against the world” type mentality. Then we have double revenge. Carolina beat ‘Cuse at the Carrier Dome back in January, 84-73, as a 7.5-point point favorite. (That was Boeheim’s first game back.) Then the Tar Heels squeezed past the Orange in Chapel Hill, 75-70, as a 12.5-point favorite. It’s never easy to beat a team three times in one season.
Now, the first game . . . Looked at every angle, every stat, and man, this is a tough call. But call it, we will: Villanova minus 2 points over Oklahoma.
Actually thought that the game would come up pick ’em, or Oklahoma a small favorite. So was kinda surprised when they opened Villanova minus-1.5 (which has moved up to minus-2). Why surprised? The Sooners destroyed ‘Nova in Hawaii in December, 78-55, as a five-point underdog, that’s why. You might have read that the Wildcats shot only 4-for-32 from beyond the arc in that game, but they couldn’t do that again if they were blindfolded. Different story at the Big Dance, where Jay Wright’s kids have shot over 46 percent from downtown and over 55 percent from the field. The ‘Cats also have been deadly from the free throw stripe – 56 of 66, which is just short of 85 percent – while the Okies have hit 52 of 76, for 68 percent. So if it comes down to free throws, huge advantage to our guys.
Honesty alert . . . Or cheesesteak bias. My son-in-law is from Oklahoma, but my son was born at Frankford Hospital, so I’m rooting for ‘Nova. And it doesn’t hurt that Villanova has covered four in a row and five of the last seven, while Oklahoma has covered only two of the last nine. Gimme $55 to win $50 on each game.
And if you’re rocking the total, Vic is going under 145.5, as the Wildcats move into the title game with a 74-70 victory.
When two teams are seemingly as even matched as Villanova and Oklahoma, give me the team that has the best player. That’s OU’s Buddy Hield.
This was supposed to be Denzel Valentine’s shining moment, but Middle Tennessee quickly extinguished Michigan State. Hield came back to college for this very scenario. We’re hoping for Villanova, but thinking Oklahoma. Call it Sooners, 74-70.
From the props, let’s head over to the Syracuse-North Carolina game and take Michael Gbinije over 18.5 points scored.
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The Syracuse guard has hit for at least 20 points in four of the six. If Syracuse is to hang around, the fellas from the perimeter will have to get it done. Not a lot happens inside against North Carolina. And if the Orange get behind early, that’ll be OK for Gbinije’s total, too.
BOB VETRONE JR.
We think Villanova will win (in the 80-78 range or so), but we can’t shake the image of a late scrambling flurry of Buddy Hield three-pointers getting a late seven-point lead down to one at the buzzer. So we will stay away from the points. And the money line is way too steep (Villanova -$140) for an evenly matched game.
So, we’re left to go with the over 145.5 total points. Yes, both teams can “D” it up, but often to the extent of quick transition baskets. (Ask Iowa’s guards, who were treated for windburn and whiplash at halftime of their second-round game against Villanova). And even if the score grows slowly early, both these teams can score in bunches down the stretch, so we’ll always have a shot. Oh, yeah, did we mention the total has been over in 10 of Villanova’s last 13 contest?
You know who won’t have a shot? Syracuse in the second game. Even though the odds are steep (1-2, or $100 to win $50), we’ll take the North Carolina leads at half and wins the game double.
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