2016 Final Four Preview: Syracuse vs. North Carolina

In the late game on Saturday, the 10th-seeded Syracuse Orange (23-13, 20-15 ATS) will try to continue their unlikely run against the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels (32-6, 19-18 ATS). Although North Carolina opened as the co-favorite to win the national championship, Syracuse was always viewed as a massive long shot.

As ACC rivals, these two teams have already squared off twice this season with North Carolina winnings both contests:

  1. North Carolina 84, Syracuse 73 (January 9th in Syracuse)
  2. North Carolina 75, Syracuse 70 (February 29th in Chapel Hill)

It’s interesting to note that the Tar Heels closed as a 13-point favorite at home and a 7.5-point favorite on the road. Based on these numbers, you would expect that North Carolina would have opened as a 10 or 10.5-point favorite on a neutral court. We should also point out that the January 9th matchup was Boeheim’s first game back following a nine-game suspension for NCAA violations.

Although we expected that North Carolina would open as a double-digit favorite, they ultimately opened as a 9.5-point favorite at the market setting Pinnacle sportsbook. In early betting the Tar Heels have received 57% of spread bets and 57% of total dollars wagered, yet the line has dropped from 9.5 to 9. This doesn’t quite qualify as reverse line movement, but it could point to small sharp action on Syracuse.

We should note that there have not been any bet signals triggered on this game and many sharp sportsbooks (like CRIS and 5Dimes) are still offering North Carolina -9.5. Additionally, there aren’t any profitable betting system matches for either team so bettors may want to lay off this spread entirely.

Although there’s been limited line movement on the spread, there has been a sizable move on the total. At the time of publication only 52% of bettors were taking the under, yet the total had dropped from 147 to 144.5 at Pinnacle.

Since 2005, the under has gone 397-373 (51.6%) in NCAA Tournament games including a 32-32 record this season. Our research also found that unders have been particularly profitable during late round games, posting a 20-13 record (+5.9 units) in the Final Four and championship game.

We consistently espouse the importance of having access to at least three sportsbooks: one sharp (like CRIS or the Greek), one square (like Bovada, SIA or Sportsbook.com) and one reduced juice (like Pinnacle or 5Dimes). This ensures that you’re able to consistently get the best possible line, which can improve your long term winning percentage by 1-2%. In this case there are several sportsbooks who still have the total listed at 145.5, so make sure to shop for the best line if you plan on taking the under.


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These numbers are subject to change before kickoff, so bettors should be sure to visit our free college basketball odds page for the latest lines, injuries, public betting trends and more.

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David Solar

David Solar has been the Content Manager at Sports Insights for over four years. He specializes in sports betting analytics and has created several popular data-driven betting systems. He can be reached directly at david@sportsinsights.com or on twitter at @TheDavidSolar.

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