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Bernie Fratto (@BernieFratto): Baylor/Houston First Half Under 63
A Texas Two-Step awaits on Saturday night as Houston and Baylor square off in the Final Four evening game. By now you know Kelvin Sampson’s commitment to defense and rebounding, but did you know the Cougars are also 328th in tempo (averaging 19.3 seconds per possession), which in common parlance, is a snails pace. Houston’s style resulted in 51 points combined in the first half of its Elite Eight win over Oregon State while Baylor will simply be happy to settle into its high-pressure halfcourt defense and do its its best to shock and disrupt Houston early on. This makes a first half under looks very appetizing. Too many early fouls or too many three’s could screw this up of course, but I’m willing to bet that this is a fist fight in a phone booth. The value is clearly on the first half under of 63 for this Final Four matchup.
Justin "Smoove" Everett (@Smoove702): Gonzaga First Half -8
One important factor that I underestimated about the Michigan vs. UCLA matchup was Michigan being without its second-leading scorer and senior guard Isaiah Livers. An advantage Michigan had just by looking at the numbers was the three-point line being ranked top 15 in the country from deep, but without Livers, who was their best three-point shooter at 43% on five attempts per game, the Wolverines shot a horrible 27% and could not separate from UCLA when they had their opportunities. Going up against Gonzaga will be much different though, as the Bulldogs are healthy and a better team than Michigan. I don’t see UCLA holding another great three-point shooting team under its season average for the second time in a row. Also, the Zags are the number one ranked team in 2PT% while UCLA is 158th in opponent 2PT%. I also believe the Zags have some extra motivation on their side from the standpoint of hearing for years that their records from recent great seasons meant nothing because they never made it past the Sweet 16. Now we have the best Gonzaga team in school history. Three NBA prospects on the roster, with one being a top 3-5 pick. The Bulldogs are two games away from not only being crowned national champs, but finishing the season undefeated. That would put an end to the critics not respecting their resume.
Greg Frank (G_Frank6): UCLA Team Total Over 65.5
At +14 the Bruins are the largest underdog in Final Four history since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 - and like most non-Gonzaga fans, I 'd like to see UCLA at least put up a fight and keep the game competitive. But that doesn't mean I can bet the Bruins with the points and feel good about it against the freight train that is the Bulldogs. I believe that betting UCLA’s team total over is the smarter play for anyone looking for a pro-UCLA bet in this game. You have to score a bunch and still have to hope the Zags are a little bit off their game to beat them. Considering Gonzaga's decisive size advantage, my guess is UCLA jacks up a ton of threes and hopes to heat up enough to have a chance late. Gonzaga's last three opponents have scored 71, 65 and 66 points respectively, and all three games were Bulldog blowout victories. I expect something similar here, with UCLA scoring in the upper 60s and still losing decisively.
Steve Rieder (@AvoidTheVig): Baylor/Houston Over 134
It has been a profitable endeavor betting unders at Lucas Oil Stadium. However the word is out and the market has adjusted to a point where there is now value in the over. After an inefficient performance at the venue against Hartford in which they shot 41% from the field and 33% beyond the arc, the Bears regained their shooting prowess versus Arkansas by connecting on 48% and 53%, respectively. Baylor will be more comfortable in now its third game at Lucas Oil, which will allow the team with the best three-point shooting percentage in the nation to get their requisite points. Houston's first game at Lucas Oil, on the other side, was one it should've lost against Rutgers in the Round of 32 (and shooting just 37%). The Cougars' second game at the stadium produced even worse numbers. Even if Houston struggles, however - which history suggests is certainly a possibility - it will certainly find scoring opportunities on the offensive glass. Kelvin Sampson's group is ranked second nationally in offensive rebounding, while Baylor ranks down at 273th in defensive rebounding. The Cougars don't have to shoot well to score here.
Chris Dell (@MaddJournalist): Dejon Jarreau Over 4.5 Assists (DraftKings +100)
There's probably not a single player in the nation that has impressed me more than Houston's Dejon Jarreau - and that's not even mentioning his heroic efforts while battling a hip pointer against Rutgers in the Round of 32. A 6'5" point guard with more length than seemingly any guard left in the tournament, Jarreau can truly do it all despite being an average jump shooter at best. The Cougars senior is averaging seven assists per game over his last five "healthy" starts, dating back to the American Athletic Conference Quarterfinals, and he has posted exactly eight assists per game in his only two full/healthy NCAA Tournament games against Syracuse in the Sweet 16 and against Oregon State in the Elite 8. With the Baylor defense improving "post COVID pause" and the stakes higher than ever before, I expect Jarreau to keep things steady for this Houston offense in finding his teammates for open looks. Quentin Grimes and Marcus Sasser need to make big shots for Houston to keep up in this Final Four affair, and Jarreau is the distributor to get that job done, both with his elite size/length and experience level as a point guard. He has averaged 4.4 assists in just 28.8 minutes this season, but if you extrapolate that to his current tourney minutes per game average (sans the hip pointer game against Rutgers, where he clearly wasn't himself despite posting 17 points and five rebounds in 32 minutes of action), you're looking at a guy who's averaging 36 minutes per game. While Baylor's adjusted defense (28th) and raw defense (21st) are OK, Houston's offense (8th and 5th) points to the Cougars being able to have a fair level of success with the ball, especially while it's in the hands of their best playmaker/distributor. At +100, what's not to like?
Brandon "BC" Capelo (@TexSR_Brandon): Gonzaga -14
I missed the opening line of -13.5 here, but it doesn't matter. The Gonzaga Bulldogs, both metrically and visually, are VASTLY the better team in their upcoming Final Four showdown with the #11 seed UCLA Bruins. Gonzaga is #1 overall on offense in the nation and beating up teams by 17 or more points per game with regularity. I'm fading the Bruins as well, as they've been the beneficiary of their opponent's worst shooting performances (or close to it) for nearly their entire NCAA Tournament run. The luck will eventually run out for Mick Cronin's club, however, and I believe it happens against the best college basketball team in the nation. I look for Gonzaga to win by 18 or more points on Saturday, as the Bulldogs extend their unbeaten record to 31-0 and come one step closer to winning their first national title.