North Carolina and Villanova are favored in Saturday’s Final Four games, but they are far from guarantees to reach the national championship game. Even if Syracuse and Oklahoma don’t pull off upsets, they’ve got a solid chance to at least cover the point spread.
Entering the 2016 NCAA Tournament as a No.10 seed, Syracuse has the best record against the spread of any Final Four team at 20-15. Oklahoma is the only team still alive with a losing record against the spread (14-20). The Sooners, however, have covered the spread in their last two games with consecutive double-digit wins over a No.3 and a No.1 seed.
The Tar Heels are 18-18-2 against the spread, while the Wildcats are 19-17-1. North Carolina hasn’t been an underdog since Duke opened as a favorite in their matchup on March 5. Villanova was an underdog when they beat Kansas in the Elite Eight.
Villanova (-2) vs. Oklahoma
Saturday marks the first time that the Sooners are underdogs in the tournament. The betting line was a pick’em in their Elite Eight contest against Oregon, and they went 0-2 against the spread in their first two tournament games. Oklahoma has struggled against the best teams on their schedule, going 3-11 against the spread when facing teams with a winning record. But the Sooners have shown they have what it takes to defeat Villanova.
Oklahoma beat Villanova by 23 points in December behind just 18 points from leading scorer Buddy Hield. Hield has been the best player in March Madness, averaging 29.2 points on 56.7 percent shooting in his last four games. If he continues to put up those kinds of numbers, Oklahoma has a good chance to win their first national title in school history.
Villanova will be tough to defeat after they ousted the No.1 overall seed in the tournament. Jay Wright’s team is 7-1 straight up and against the spread as a favorite of two points or less.
Prediction ATS: Oklahoma
North Carolina (-9.5) vs. Syracuse
The Orange have exceeded expectations for the entire tournament, and they could do the same on Saturday. Syracuse has been an underdog in three of their four games, covering the point spread each time. They easily covered the 6.5-point spread when they were favored against Middle Tennessee State, and they are undefeated against the spread in their last five games.
North Carolina failed to cover the spread against FGCU in the first round, though they’ve covered in their last three games, winning each contest by at least 14 points. The Tar Heels have covered the point spread in seven of their last eight games, and they are widely regarded as the best Final Four team.
Syracuse was unable to defeat North Carolina when the two teams met a month ago, but they did manage to cover the 12.5-point spread when they lost 75-70. The Orange could have a chance to steal the game late on Saturday, since they are playing better than they have all season.
Prediction ATS: Syracuse