College Basketball: March Madness – Final Four Preview and Latest Odds

march-madness-2014After all of the madness and upsets we’ve finally arrived at the critical moment. There are only three games left to go before we crown a new national champion in basketball. If you simply went with #1 seeds in all four brackets all the way through, you came up pretty flush right now, as they’ve managed to hold down 75% of the regions in the NCAA tournament. The only longshot left now with a prayer is the “Fighting Izzos” of Michigan State – better known as the Spartans. MSU certainly didn’t have an easy road as the #7 seed in the East. Georgia gave them a good fight as the #10 seed in the opening round but they prevailed 70-63. #2 Virginia made it even closer in a 60-54 war. #3 Oklahoma gave them their hardest fight of the whole tournament, but the Spartans beat the odds one more time and advanced 62-58. To complete their 2-3-4 sweep the Spartans advanced out of the Elite 8 with a 76-70 win over Louisville. They never had to face Villanova as the #1 seed – NC State’s Wolfpack saw to that a 71-68 shocker in the second round. It should come as no surprise to you that the Spartans are ONCE AGAIN the dogs on the money line, with perennial basketball powerhouse Duke a -250 favorite over MSU at +210. They were slim favorites against Louisville (-135) but other than the opening round it has been an uphill battle. If the Duke Blue Devils have an Achilles’ heel right now it’s overconfidence. Other than their match-up with #5 Utah, they’ve been crushing every opponent they’ve faced with double digit margins of victory. They’re certainly not unbeatable though. Notre Dame knocked them off TWICE this year, and they also have losses to Miami and the aforementioned North Carolina State. Duke’s Jahlil Okafor needs to get hot in a hurry. He’s only scored 15 points combined in the last two games, when he was averaging over 20 points a game in the previous three. Senior Quinn Cook has also seen his productiveness decline under pressure. Meanwhile MSU’s Travis Trice hasn’t scored less than 15 the entire tournament. If he and Denzel Valentine stay hot this is going to be an upset a lot of Blue Devils fans never saw coming (and should have). In the other semi-final match up the Western champion Wisconsin will face the Midwestern champion Kentucky, who escaped by the skin of their teeth in the Elite 8 with a 66-64 win over Notre Dame. They’re still the -240 favorite over Wisconsin at +200 but I’ve been saying all along the moment will come to pick against Kentucky – I feel that now is the time to bet the dog. The Badgers have the resume to finally topple the Wildcats – 35-3 overall, 16-2 in the Big Ten, and they’ll be eager to avenge an 80-70 loss to Duke last December if both schools advance to the championship game. Look for another strong game from senior Frank Kaminsky, who lit up the #2 seed Arizona with 29 points as the Badgers advanced. Notre Dame showed Wisconsin it can be done – now they’ll be the ones to get over the top. As always these previews are for entertainment purposes only and if you’re going to bet please do so responsibly and wager only what you can afford. Enjoy the Final Four!

Written by Stevie J

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