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Sizing up last 9 Final Four battles for the NCAA Tournament

Apr 1, 2014 3:00 AM

It is a great week for sports fans with the start of baseball, the NBA stretch run, the Final Four and the culmination of the college basketball season next Monday in Arlington, Texas for the national championship.

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

Many things happen over the course of a long season. Some teams play great basketball in December and January, only to break down from injuries or run out of steam down the stretch. Syracuse is a good example.

Last year Miami started 22-3 before the national spotlight and a key injury took a toll, losing in the tourney to Marquette, 71-61. The previous two years Missouri started 17-0 before stumbling in midseason.

Other times an easy early season schedule, youth, bad coaching, untimely injuries, bad luck, poor team chemistry or a combination of these can cut down a potentially great team. North Carolina started 0-3 in ACC play before gelling and playing much better.

Duke has seen its title hopes dashed in recent years, a stunning loss to Lehigh as 11-point chalk and two weeks ago getting bounced by Mercer, 78-71. This is nothing new. Gonzaga was taken down by Wichita last March.

It is very easy for sports bettors to look into trends to try and predict the future. Trends can be helpful if there are reasons to support it. For example, from a betting perspective, what stands out about the last nine Final Fours?

2013 Score Line
Wichita State 68 131
Louisville 72 -11
Syracuse 56 131
Michigan 61 -2
2012 Score Line
Ohio State 62 -3
Kansas 64 136
Louisville 61 136½
Kentucky 69 -8
2011 Score Line
Butler 70 -3½
VCU 62 133
Kentucky 55 131
UConn 56 +2½
2010 Score Line
Butler 52 +1½
Michigan St. 50 125
West Virginia 57 130
Duke 78 -2½
2009 Score Line
Michigan St. 82 135
UConn 73 -4
N. Carolina 83 -7½
Villanova 69 160
2008 Score Line
Kansas 84 158
N. Carolina 66 -3
UCLA 63 135
Memphis 78 -3
2007 Score Line
Georgetown 60 -1
Ohio St. 67 130
UCLA 66 131
Florida 76 -3
2006 Score Line
G. Mason 58 132
Florida 73 -6
LSU 45 -2
UCLA 59 123
2005 Score Line
Louisville 57 144
Illinois 72 -3
Michigan St. 71 153
N. Carolina 87 -2
2004 Score Line
Georgia Tech 67 139
Oklahoma St. 65 -4
UConn 79 -2
Duke 78 144
2003 Score Line
Marquette 61 -4½
Kansas 94 153½
Syracuse 95 153
Texas 84 -3
2002 Score Line
Indiana 73 134
Oklahoma 64 -6½
Maryland 97 168
Kansas 88 -1½

What stands out is it has been the day of the dog. The underdog is 13-9-1 ATS, with 11 dogs winning straight up. In addition, the games have gone 13-11 UNDER the total, although that result is 11-5 the last eight years.

You can even make an argument that this would be the right time of the college hoops’ season to take a shot with the dog on the money line. However, this is where one needs patience, because trends can also be a fool’s paradise.

Even looking at totals a similar pattern emerges. The last 12 years OVER/UNDER has been almost equal, 13-11 UNDER in the Final Four.

For the record, going back the last 19 years, there have been 23 UNDERS and 15 OVERS in the Final Four, with 19 dogs covering while 18 favorites have gotten the money with one push.

Perhaps the most significant stat that stands out is that 15 of the 19 dogs that covered ended up winning the game outright

Jim Feist, author and leader in sports information for over 40 years, hosts TV’s Proline as well as running National Sports Services since 1975. Follow him on twitter: @JimFeistSports . Reach him at [email protected]

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