The NCAA Final Four is one of the strongest in recent years as three #1 seeds, Kentucky, Duke, and Wisconsin, join the Cinderella of the tournament, #7 Michigan State.
With both games scheduled for this Saturday night, Kentucky remains the top dog, although their stock has slightly fallen following its nail-biter against Notre Dame in the Elite 8.
Since entering the tourney as the overall #1 seed and heavy favorite, John Calipari’s squad has lived up to the expectations as the Wildcats streak has continued to a perfect 38-0.
However, with the strength of this year’s finalists, primarily Duke and Wisconsin who have a combined total of just seven losses against 68 wins, Kentucky winning the 2015 title is no longer a forgone conclusion.
#7 Michigan State plays #1 Duke with tipoff set for 6:49 PM, and #1 Kentucky takes on #1 Wisconsin afterwards. Both the semifinals and national championship will take place at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, but the real action will be at the Vegas sportsbooks!
Final Four by Comparison
In 2014, just one of the #1 seeds survived to the Final Four, the Florida Gators, who would lose in the semifinals to the seventh-seeded and eventual champion Connecticut Huskies. The other game consisted of two teams repeating the Final Four experience in 2015, the then #2 Wisconsin Badgers squaring off against #8 Kentucky.
With such relatively low ranked teams reaching the semis, last year’s Final Four didn’t have a clear-cut favorite, and the same holds true for 2015. With three #1 squads playing at their best, and the Spartans rising to the occasion, four teams are more than capable of cutting down nets this weekend.
Buy or Sell:
Michigan State: Coach Tom Izzo knows a thing or two about the NCAA tournament. This is his seventh trip to the Final Four, and his team has arguably the best shooter remaining in the tourney in Travis Trice.
Buy: They are the Cinderella this year and are more confident than any other team after knocking off #2 Virginia, #3 Oklahoma, and #4 Louisville. Last year’s UConn team won as a seven seed, so why not Sparty?
Sell: MSU is the heavy underdog, a team that went through severe struggles during the year that included a loss to Texas Southern in nonconference play.
Vegas Odds: 16-1
Duke: While all the coaches in the Final Four are exceptional, Coach K won his 1,000th game this year, and a fifth NCAA title would be a rather fitting way to celebrate.
Buy: Duke has the easier semifinal game in playing Michigan State. Bypassing Wisconsin and Kentucky certainly makes them a stronger bet than the Badgers.
Sell: Jahlil Okafor, Duke’s big man, wasn’t himself during the last two games where he scored just 15 points. Utah and Gonzaga now provide a blueprint on how to defend the 6′ 10″ center, a guide that could cost Duke a chance at reaching the championship.
Wisconsin: The mission is simple; just knock off a team that hasn’t been knocked off since last April.
Buy: Notre Dame, who lost to Kentucky by just two points, figured out how to defend the NBA-esque roster of bigs. Wisconsin is the most efficient offense in the country, with Sam Decker leading the way against Arizona where he scored 27.
Sell: Kentucky doesn’t lose. Even with a blueprint for success, until it happens it’s hard to imagine.
Kentucky: Entering the tournament, many experts believed the Wildcats had an easy road to the Final Four. That didn’t prove to be the case, and with its most difficult two-game stretch ahead, the team’s mojo will certainly be put to the test.
Buy: It’s Kentucky, the perfection of NCAA men’s basketball. The roster is filled with bigger, faster, and stronger players than the other three teams.
Sell: It’s Kentucky, and the team is supposed to win. And as all Madness fans know, expect the unexpected.
With four scenarios that aren’t too difficult to envision, it’s probably best not to bet the farm on any one team. It’s going to be a thrilling final three games regardless of a wager!