Public believes in Auburn
April 06, 2019 7:15 AM
by Ramon Scott
The Auburn Tigers are the most popular choice of public bettors entering Saturday’s Final Four opener in Minneapolis.
Bettors were less certain on their betting choice in the other national semifinal, although the Michigan State Spartans had moved a half-point higher to -3 in their matchup with the Texas Tech Red Raiders.
The lines went up Sunday after the Final Four field was set and it didn’t take long for a couple of patterns to be set.
Early bettors think five points is just too many for the Virginia Cavaliers to give the long shot Tigers. Roughly three-quarters of the early point-spread action was on Auburn.
It should be noted that Auburn will be without one of its top players after 6-foot-8 sophomore Chuma Okeke was lost to injury in the Sweet 16 win over North Carolina. Still, Auburn beat Kentucky in overtime in the subsequent Elite Eight game without him.
It certainly will be hard not to trust the Cavaliers, which are 25-11 ATS, one of the best spread marks in the country, though the Tigers were also a winner at the window with a 21-16-1 record versus the number this season.
Final Four favorites of five points or more are 11-5-1 ATS over the last 20 years and the ACC has fared well of late vs. the number on the final weekend, covering six of the conference’s last eight games as a favorite.
Virginia was 15-5 ATS away from Charlottesville this season.
Bettors were also keen on taking the over in the early contest. Around three-quarters of the tickets and money were squarely on the high side in this matchup of contrasting styles.
While the Tigers are known for a more up-tempo pace, the Cavs are famous for their air-out-of-the-ball approach. Accordingly, Auburn has trended slightly to the over this season, going 21-17 to the high side, but nine of its last 10 has gone over, while Virginia is 16-20 to the under overall. VIRGINIA
As for Michigan State-Texas tech, the Spartans were terrific against the spread this season, posting a 27-11 mark, although Tech also posted a winning ATS mark at 19-16-1.
Texas Tech, like Auburn, is making its first trip to the Final Four. Of the last 14 schools to make their first appearance, only four have advanced to the title game.
But more significantly, both of these clubs were solid under teams this season. Although the action appears relatively mixed on the spread and money line, bettors appear more convinced on the expected production in the second semifinal. More than 60 percent of the tickets and money coming in on the total was reportedly on the under.
The two teams have combined to go 30-43-1 to the under so far.
The Red Raiders lead the nation in fewest points-per-possession allowed, while the Spartans are one of the nation’s best in the interior, limiting opponents to the second-lowest two-point field goal percentage in the county. UNDER
The look-ahead lines for the championship game: Virginia -1 over Michigan State, Virginia -3 over Texas Tech, Michigan State -4.5 over Auburn, and Texas Tech -2 over Auburn.
Last week: 2-0
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