March Madness Final Four Betting Trends: Purdue-NC State, UConn-Alabama

The Final Four beckons and bettors take the bait.

Here’s a look at our Final Four betting trends to honor college basketball’s ultimate stage.

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1. Moneyline Gamblers Want the Dog

NC State commanded 85% of the early DraftKings moneyline market at +340 against Purdue. Why not? There is little value in taking Purdue at -440.

Wolfpack bettors went one step further, putting 71% of the early handle on them at +9, where they opened. There’s a symmetry to it. Nine wins in a row by NC State and the magic +9 number.

Alabama moneyline bettors piled on with 75% of the wagering at +525. That doesn’t mean most of the gamblers believe Alabama will pull this huge upset.

But those who do play this wager will think big. They would rather take a pop at this price than with Connecticut at -750.

UConn gains a split in the sentiment, however. Spread bettors favor the Huskies at 74% handle at the -11.5 number.

2. Every Team Rides an Intangible

UConn has become a team for the ages. It holds an NCAA record for 10 straight victories by double-digit margins in tournament play. That included six straight routs to win the tournament last year and four to start this campaign.

Connecticut is an awesome team. In the 77-52 triumph over Illinois, UConn went on an unheard-of run. Try 30-0, after what had been a tie game. The score went from 23-23 to 53-23 UConn.

There is destiny riding here. The Huskies look like a one-of-a-kind team as they seek to become the first repeat winner since Florida in 2006 and 2007.

Can they do it all by double digits?

Alabama has developed mettle, sticking around long enough to steal big games at the end. The Crimson Tide did that to North Carolina, 89-87, and controlled the finish in beating Clemson 89-82.

If this team stays in games, it expects to win.

Purdue has played with the anger of a team knocked out in the first round by FDU last year. The Boilermakers became only the second No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16. It stung.

They have harnessed that intensity all season. For good measure, they suffered a 76-75 conference tournament loss to Wisconsin, rekindling their desire.

Purdue beat the next two teams by 67 points and has been consistent all through the tournament.

NC State defies explanation. The Wolfpack have played with extreme confidence since DJ Burns came into his own in the pivot.

The nine straight wins include two over Duke and one over North Carolina. Three triumphs over nationally-ranked teams in March. Yikes, what’s happening with this pre-tournament longshot of +18000 (180-1) at DraftKings?

The spread for each game always indicates this team is playing over its head. And Wolfpack bettors can’t wait to seize those points.

NC State has gone from 17-14 to 26-14. The run is reminiscent of a miracle team in a different sport. The 1969 New York Mets went from 62-51 to 100-62, then captured seven of eight postseason games. They went an improbable 45-12 and won the World Series.

The following year, the same players went 83-79. Sometimes a team just catches fire.

3. Gamblers Have Taken These Teams to the Bank

The Final Four contestants are 15-1 ATS in the tournament, a remarkable run. Here’s the breakdown.

Purdue (4-0)

  • Grambling State: 78-50 at -27 (razor close)
  • Utah State: 106-67 at -11.5
  • Gonzaga: 80-68 at -4.5
  • Tennessee: 72-66 at -3

Money in the bank for its backers.

NC State (3-1)

  • Texas Tech: 80-67 at + 5
  • Marquette: 67-58 at +7.5
  • Duke: 76-64 at +7

The Wolfpack barely failed once as a chalk, topping Oakland 79-73 in the second round at -6.5.

In its magical run that includes five ACC tournament victories, NC State is on a 7-2 ATS run. Both spread losses were by one-half of a point.

UConn (4-0)

The Huskies have covered a total of 60.5 points in four triumphs.

  • Stetson: 91-52 at -27.5
  • Northwestern: 75-58 at -13
  • San Diego State: 82-52 at -12
  • Illinois: 77-52 at -8

UConn has outscored its four tournament opponents by 111 points.

Alabama (4-0)

  • Charleston: 109-96 at -8.5
  • Grand Canyon: 72-61 at -5
  • UNC: 89-87 at +4.5
  • Clemson: 89-82 at -3

All Final Four teams broke quickly from the gate in this tourney. They were at combined 14-2 ML for the first half. The only exceptions were Alabama trailing North Carolina 54-46 and NC State losing to Duke 27-21 at the break.

4. Miscellaneous Trends

NC State

At No. 11, tries to become the lowest seed ever to win the national championship. That honor belongs to the Villanova Wildcats, who captured the title at No. 8 in 1985.

Scores an average of 76 points a game.

Gives up 72 points per game.

Average victory margin, 11.4 points.

Scored 70 or more points in 10 consecutive Saturday day games against non-conference foes. This is a day game in Arizona, site of the contest.

Won 15 straight first halves in Saturday day games versus non-conference opponents.

Have won two national championships in 1974 and 1983.


Has won 17 straight Saturday day games versus non-conference opponents.

Scores an average of 83 points per game.

Gives up an average of 69.4 points.

Average winning margin 16.4 points.

Has never won a national championship.

Sports Zach Edey, likely to gain the Wooden Award as the nation’s top player for the second straight year.


Has won 17 straight games at neutral venues.

Won the first half in 16 straight games at neutral venues.

Given up 73 points or less in 17 straight tournament games.

Game totals have been 157 or less in 17 straight tournament matchups. The total on this game is 160.

Have held five straight opponents in the 50’s point range, including three at 52.


Offenses have been lighting it up in Crimson Tide games. The Over is on an 8-2 run.

The last 10 Alabama games have averaged 180.6 points.

The Tide has exceeded 100 points twice and yielded more than 100 once over this span.

It has gone over 90 points twice.

The team has scored 89 points in its last two.


About the Author
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is an award-winning writer and broadcaster, who has covered the sports industry since the 1970s. He won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting by the Boxing Writers Association of America in 1997, and is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Bontempo has broadcast major fights all over the world. The advent of legalized sports wagering shifted his focus to this exciting new industry in 2018.

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