Two of the nation’s most historic programs will face off in tonight’s national championship game as the Kansas Jayhawks (32-6, 16-2 Big 12) take on the Kentucky Wildcats (37-2, 16-0 SEC). Both teams are loaded with talent, however, with potentially six first round picks on their roster Kentucky seems to be the superior team. Perhaps that explains why the ‘Cats opened as 6.5-point favorites at the market-setting Cris sportsbook.
The matchup most sports fans have been anticipating features All-American forwards Anthony Davis and Thomas Robinson. Although it remains unclear whether these two will actually guard each other, both players are likely top five picks in the upcoming NBA draft and each won their conference’s Player of the Year Award.
Davis, a 6’10″ forward, averaged 14.4 points and 10.2 rebounds — however it is his defense (NCAA-best 4.6 blocks per game) that makes the freshman must-see TV. Robinson does not provide the same type of interior presence, however the junior is arguably the most dominant post scorer in the country. Utilizing a dazzling combination of power and athleticism, Robinson led the Big 12 in rebounding this season (11.9) while ranking third in the conference in scoring (18.0).
So how does tonight’s matchup compare to past title games? The table below compares the betting trends for the past nine national championship games.
|Year||Closing Line||% on Favorite||Did Favorite Cover?||Closing Total||% on Over||Did Over Cover?|
|2004||UConn 82 (-5.5) vs. Georgia Tech 73||38%||Yes||145.5||69%||Yes|
|2005||North Carolina 75 (-2) vs. Illinois 70||57%||Yes||153||67%||No|
|2006||Florida 73 (-1) vs. UCLA 57||55%||Yes||128||52%||Yes|
|2007||Florida 84 (-4) vs. Ohio State 75||56%||Yes||139.5||67%||Yes|
|2008||Kansas 75 (+1.5) vs. Memphis 68||65%||No||146||70%||No|
|2009||North Carolina 89 (-7.5) vs. Michigan State 72||55%||Yes||153||65%||Yes|
|2010||Duke 61 (-7) vs. Butler 59||56%||No||127.5||62%||No|
|2011||UConn 53 (-3) vs. Butler 41||38%||Yes||131.5||65%||No|
|2012||Kentucky (-6) vs. Kansas||68%||137.5||49%|
The first thing that jumps off the page is the fact that the favorite has covered the spread every year except 2008 and 2010 — and there is more to both of those games than meets the eye. In 2008′s title game between Kansas and Memphis, the Jayhawks actually opened as 1.5-point favorites before lop-sided betting on the Tigers shifted the line. In 2010, Butler was able to hang close with the Blue Devils and cover the 7-point spread, however Duke ultimately won the game.
It is also painfully obvious that the public loves betting on overs, however this may be the first year that the public favors the under. With the Wildcats ranking first nationally in blocked shots (8.79 per game) and the Jayhawks also cracking the top ten (5.64), it is easy to see why the public would trend towards the under. Despite this even betting, the total has dropped two full points from 139 to 137 indicating that early sharp money was taking the under.
* All betting percentages represent Sports Insights’ College Basketball
** Information used represents Pinnacle closing lines and and totals.