Finding a chink in the oddsmakers’ armor is tough come tournament time. We peel back Saturday’s Final Four matchups in search of some underlying mismatches that could make or break your college basketball bets.
Michigan Wolverines vs. Syracuse Orange (+2.5, 131)
Wolverines’ four-guard set vs. Orange’s long, athletic zone
Michigan’s high-powered offense is driven by a four-guard set featuring freshman big Mitch McGary as the only starter over 6-foot-6. The Wolverines are able to play at a very quick pace, averaging nearly 75 points on 58 field goal attempts per game. Many of those come from behind the arc and Michigan may have to rely on its 3-point shooting versus Syracuse Saturday.
With the Orange’s 2-3 zone plugging up the paint, the Maize and Blue could be left with little choice but to launch from distance. Michigan is among the best 3-point shooting teams in the country and is shooting 40 percent for the tournament.
Syracuse’s long defenders forced Indiana – another premier perimeter team – to chuck up bricks from outside, limiting the Hoosiers to 3-of-15 shooting from 3-point range. The Orange defense is getting a hand up on outside shooters while slowing games to a standstill - not Michigan’s type of party. Cuse has locked down tournament foes to just 61 total field goals in its four games so far.
Wichita State Shockers vs. Louisville Cardinals (-10.5, 130.5)
Shockers’ second-chance buckets vs. Cardinals’ poor glass cleaning
Wichita State has hustled its way into the Final Four, surprising opponents and the nation with great defense, terrific team play, and relentless work on the glass. The Shockers were 25th in the country in rebounding and are especially dangerous on the offensive boards – 38th in Div. 1.
In the tournament, they’ve been out-rebounded only once (vs. Gonzaga) and more than 32 percent of their total boards are coming off the offensive glass. That’s led to plenty of second-chance looks for WSU.
Louisville has barely broken a sweat in the tournament with its closest game coming versus Oregon in the Sweet 16. The Cardinals don’t have many weaknesses but they have been soft on the boards, allowing opponents to grab 9.9 offensive rebounds per game this season.
Louisville allowed the Ducks to pull down 11 offensive rebounds and escaped with an eight-point win, it’s only blown cover since Dec. 23. The Cardinals failed to out-rebound their opponents in all but one of their five losses this season, giving up an average of 10.2 offensive boards in those games.