Three out of four isn’t bad! I can’t claim 100% success in predicting the NCAA “March Madness” Final 4 due to #10 seed Syracuse scoring the improbable upset over #1 seed Virginia in the Midwest region, but everything else I said came to pass. #2 seed Villanova knocked off the #1 seed Kansas in the South, #2 seed Oklahoma soundly defeated #1 seed Oregon in the West, and the only #1 seed left standing now is the Tar Heels of North Carolina from the East region. I can easily imagine somebody picking two #2 seeds to go all the way in their office pool, but if you had the Orangemen in the Final 4 I suspect you’re probably an alum of the school. Let me give Syracuse the respect they’re. It’s true that they finished 9th in the ACC, but that’s a conference that includes the aforementioned UNC, Notre Dame AND UVA, the Duke Blue Devils, the University of Miami Hurricanes, and the Lousiville Cardinals just to name a few. If you’re going to knock them for finishing 19-9 playing that many top 25 teams, then you may have actually missed that their strength of schedule prepared them perfectly to go on a run in March Madness. Who could they face that was really that much better than the teams they already faced? Senior Michael Gbinije has provided the kind of leadership to take them far, scoring in double digits in every game this tournament, leading the Orangemen with an average of 17.6 PPG. At 6’7″ and a lean 200 pounds he’s ready made for the NBA and would be a difference maker for any school in the country. Still the run they’ve made so far is to say the least improbable. They got big breaks in their bracket along the way by Michigan State being knocked off in the opening round and Utah being knocked off in the second round, leaving the equally improbable Gonzaga as their Sweet 16 opponent. The only game they won big this entire tournament was against Dayton, while everything else was a margin of 6 points or less. They’re scrappy, they’re tough, and they deserve respect — but they’re in a huge +425 hole against North Carolina. Keep an eye on this line because some late money will come in before the game on Saturday in Houston, but quite honestly this time the dog will NOT be placing “Best In Show.” I think it will be a close game and an exciting game but I expect UNC to end their run and turn the tables by having the small margin of victory in their favor. Oklahoma vs. Villanova is almost too close to call with the Wildcats a narrow -135 favorite and the Sooners a +115 dog. I’ll be shocked if this line doesn’t flip-flop several times before the ball is tipped on April 2nd. I’ve said it before though and I’ll say it again here – always bet on Buddy Hield. Like Gbinije he is single-handedly capable of dominating a game at any time based on his will and toughness, but possesses the unmatched ability to drop over 20 points in a half no other player has. As always though wager only what you can afford and enjoy the Final 4!
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