Major League Baseball opens up this weekend, but with all due respect to America’s pastime, America’s passion for the NCAA Tournament gets top billing on Saturday, and then again on Monday.
This isn’t the Final Four anyone expected, and it may not be the Final Four television executives were hoping for. But this is the Final Four we deserve. It has so many great storylines, and the best betting of the college basketball season.
Florida Atlantic vs. San Diego State (-2)
Naturally, the biggest day of the college basketball calendar tips off with Conference USA taking on the Mountain West Conference. This is a matchup you might expect to see in an early November third-tier tournament in Akron, Ohio. Instead, we have two teams making their first-ever visit to the Final Four, and one team that will play for its first-ever National Championship.
FAU is only making its second-ever NCAA Tournament appearance. SDSU on the other hand, has been to 10 of the last 13 NCAA Tournaments, and it’s worth remembering that in 2020 they were 30-2 when the Tournament was canceled because of COVID.
Adam Seiko and Nathan Mensah were on that 2020 team, and along with Darrion Trammell, Lamont Butler, and Matt Bradley, this team has talent. They were good enough to knock off the No. 1 team in the nation, Alabama, and they have now won 30 games for the third time in program history.
The Owls are a great three-point shooting team and they have now won 35 of 38 games this season, easily the best year in program history. But history also says that seeds No 9 and lower don’t get past the semifinals, and history will hold true here. The Aztecs defense will be too much for FAU, and they will cover the modest spread.
Miami vs. Connecticut (-5.5)
Miami comes into its first-ever Final Four with one of the best offensive teams in the country, and the best offense of the four remaining teams. So if they can just get past UConn, they would likely be the favorite in Monday’s National Championship game.
They beat No. 4 Indiana, 85-69, No. Houston 89-75, and No. 2 Texas 88-81, and another game into the high-80s should be enough to get it done against the Huskies.
Connecticut, however, is one of the best No. 4 seeds we’ve seen in recent years. The selection committee got their seeding wrong, as we’ve seen the past four games. UConn’s average margin of victory is 23 points, and in their win over Gonzaga, it wasn’t even that close. This team is good, they are experienced, and they are the favorites to cut down the nets on Monday for a reason.
Miami may keep it interesting in the first half, but UConn will cover in the end.
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