2015 NCAA Tournament: National Championship Preview
Tonight at 9:18 PM eastern time, the Wisconsin Badgers (36-3, 16-2 Big Ten) will face off against the Duke Blue Devils (34-4, 15-3 ACC) in the National Championship game. According to the betting trends available on our free College Basketball odds page, this game opened as a pick ’em at the market-setting Pinnacle sportsbook. At the time of publication, Wisconsin was receiving 58% of spread bets and had moved to -1 across the sports betting marketplace. Despite 61% of bettors taking the over, the total had dropped from 140 to 139.
The table below displays the current public betting trends at our seven contributing sportsbooks:
This matchup is particularly interesting because these two squads actually faced off earlier in the season as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. In that game, which was played in Madison, Wisconsin received just 40% of spread bets as a 4-point favorite. We also saw reverse line movement on the under in this game. Although 74% of bettors were on the over, the total dropped from 136.5 to 135.5.
Duke defeated Wisconsin 80-70 led by a huge game from guard Tyus Jones (22 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists). Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker, who has been red-hot of late, tallied just 5 points and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes of play in the loss. For what it’s worth, the Big Ten has gone 91-89 ATS against the ACC since 2005.
Bettors may also be interested in selecting the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player (MOP). Prior to losing, Kentucky had four of the top five candidates so needless to say the odds have seen a dramatic shake-up.
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Frank Kaminsky, who leads all active scorers with 22.2 points per game during March Madness, is the favorite to add yet another trophy to his expansive collection. The table below displays the current MOP odds at Sportsbook.com.
With no bet signals triggered and no sharp money indicators available, we will likely be laying off this game. That said, there is one prop bet which appears to be offering value.
The main storyline in this game will undoubtedly be the matchup between arguably the nation’s two best big men: Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor. Bovada lists Kaminsky (-1) as the favorite to outscore Okafor, and I firmly believe that spread should be much larger.
This season Kaminsky (18.7 ppg) only outscored Okafor (17.5 ppg) by 1.2 points per game, however, it’s easy to imagine a scenario where the freshman Okafor is overwhelmed by the spotlight and struggles early. It’s also interesting to note that during the tournament Kaminsky has tallied 111 points in five games while Okafor has managed just 80 over the same period. Okafor is unquestionably the better draft prospect, but I’ll take the senior over the freshman every day of the week.
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