Although both games yesterday were decided by double digits, the final scores did not necessarily tell the whole story. Kentucky jumped all over Baylor early, taking a 42-22 lead into halftime before cruising to an 82-70 victory. In the later game, Kansas held a one-point lead over North Carolina with under four minutes remaining but a late surge gave the Jayhawks an 80-67 win over the top-seeded Tar Heels.
In an interesting twist, both Final Four matchups are re-matches of early season games. Back on December 10th, Kansas hosted Ohio State and handed the Buckeyes their first loss of the season by the score of 78-67. In that game Ohio State opened as 3-point favorites but, despite receiving 69% of spread wagers, the line shifted significantly and the Buckeyes finished as 1.5-point dogs.
The other game is a classic in-state rivalry between Kentucky’s premier teams. From Pitino’s past at UK to the coaches previous meeting in the 1996 Final Four (when Calipari was the head coach as UMass) this game is crawling with intriguing story lines. In this season’s meeting, the Wildcats opened as 9.5-point home favorites and, despite receiving just 34% of spread bets, closed as 10-point favorites. The Cardinals were able to cover the spread, but ultimately lost 69-62.
How do the final four odds compare with the first meetings? Let’s examine the opening lines to find out how public betting is affecting the lines.
|TEAM||SPREAD BETTING %||OPEN||CURRENT||NOTES|
|(4) Louisville||53%||138.5||138.5u (-119)||The betting on this game has been quite even, with early bettors favoring Louisville and the points by a slim margin. The total has changed slightly, with oddsmakers reducing the juice on the over despite 78% of bettors foreseeing a high-scoring affair.|
|(1) Kentucky||47%||-8.5||-9 (+102)|
|(2) Ohio State||59%||-2||-2.5||After knocking off Syracuse in the Elite 8, Ohio State opened as 2-point favorites against Kansas. Despite losing in their previous matchup, the public still likes the Buckeyes as 59% of early spread bets have been on OSU. Betting on the total has been even more lopsided. So far, 81% of bettors have taken the over pushing the total two full points from 134.5 to 136.5.|
* Betting Percentages reflect Sports Insights’ College Basketball Betting Trends.
** Opening and Current Lines from Pinnacle unless otherwise stated.