Being hotter last -- matters in the NCAA

Mar 31, 2009 5:03 PM
Feist Facts by Jim Feist |

It is a great weekend for sports fans with the Final Four and the culmination of the college basketball season next Monday in Detroit for the national championship.

Clearly, it’s not the teams that start the season hot, but the ones that get hot when it really matters – March and April!

Cincinnati won 10 of 12 games to start the season. Overrated (and overvalued), the Bearcats finished the season on a 1-6 SU/ATS run. Two years ago Clemson started 17-0, then failed to even make the Big Dance after a 4-10 SU, 5-9 ATS run.

Kansas may have won the title last year, but four years ago it was a very different story: The Jayhawks started 20-1, only to go 3-6 straight up and 1-8 against the spread the last nine games. They never made it to the Final Four because of a 64-63 loss to Bucknell as a 13½-point favorite.

Trends can be helpful if there are reasons to support it. Recently, Final Fours have gone 9-4 for the underdog with eight winning straight up. In addition, the games have gone 8-6 over the total, although the under is 4-2 the last three years.

The last four years the favorites are 5-3 ATS. So if you had used that dog strategy the last two years you would have gone 3-5. The total is just 11-9 to the under the last 10 years.

The dogs are 15-13 ATS in the last 28 Final Four games. Perhaps the most significant stat is that 12 of the 15 dogs covering the spread ended up winning the game outright.

Final Four: 2002-2008

2008: KU (+3) 84, UNC 66 (158 total); Memphis (-3) 78, UCLA 63 (135).

2007: Ohio St (+1) 67, Georgetown 60 (130); Florida (-3) 76, UCLA 66 (131).

2006: Florida (-6) 73. George Mason 58 (132): UCLA (+2) 59. LSU 45 (123)

2005: Illinois (-3) 72, Louisville 57 (144); UNC (-2) 87, Michigan St 71 (153).

2004: Ga Tech (+4) 67, Okla St 65 (139); UConn (-2) 79, Duke 78 (144).

2003: KU (+4½) 94, Marq 61 (153½); Syracuse (+3) 95, Texas 84 (153).

2002: Indiana (+6½) 73, Okla 64 (134); Maryland (+1½) 97, KU 88 (168).