Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at 10:12 AM
The NCAA Tournament's Final Four is just days away - and we're consumed by numbers:
Numbers like 30 as all of this year's power-packed Final 4 teams have won 30-or-more games and how about the fact that the "average record" for Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State and Kansas is a glittering 32-6 - hey, folks, that's a high-class .842 winning rate. Not bad!
Than there's the updated Odds to Win it All - and here's what the good folks in Las Vegas are saying right now (and note all the figures below are based on $100 per-play wagers):
Kentucky is - 125 meaning - of course - that you have to lay $125 to win $100 and you have to win both Saturday's semifinal round game plus Monday's national championship tilt.
Wanna know something? We still think that's a bit light.
Ohio State is listed at + 275; Kansas is + 400; and long-shot Louisville is + 1000. Meanwhile, if you've followed the NCAA Tournament's Final Four all these years than you know there's been cases where the long-shot team did win in all and the 1983 N.C. State Wolfpack and the 1985 Villanova Wildcats quickly come to mind.
In fact, with Kentucky listed as a rock-solid 8 ½-point betting favorite for its Final Four game against archrival Louisville this Saturday, it got us busy researching which NCAA Tourney games so far this year had pointspreads this large or bigger and here's the findings:
|3-15||Syracuse||- 15.5||UNC Asheville||Syracuse 72-65|
|3-15||Ohio State||- 17.5||Loyola-Md.||Ohio State 78-59|
|3-15||Kentucky||- 26.5||Western Kentucky||Kentucky 81-66|
|3-15||Baylor||- 8||South Dakota State||Baylor 68-60|
|3-15||Wisconsin||- 8.5||Montana||Wisconsin 73-49|
|3-16||Duke||- 13.5||Lehigh||Lehigh 75-70|
|3-16||North Carolina||- 16||Vermont||North Carolina 77-59|
|3-16||Michigan State||- 18.5||LIU||Michigan State 89-67|
|3-16||Missouri||- 21.5||Norfolk State||Norfolk State 86-84|
|3-16||Kansas||- 13.5||Detroit||Kansas 65-50|
|3-17||Kentucky||- 12||Iowa State||Kentucky 87-71|
|3-17||Baylor||- 8||Colorado||Baylor 80-63|
|3-18||North Carolina||- 9.5||Creighton||North Carolina 87-73|
|3-18||Florida||- 14||Norfolk State||Florida 84-50|
|3-18||Kansas||- 8||Purdue||Kansas 63-60|
|3-23||Kentucky||- 9.5||Indiana||Kentucky 102-90|
|3-23||Kansas||- 8.5||N.C. State||Kansas 60-57|
|3-23||North Carolina||- 10||Ohio||North Carolina 73-65 (ot)|
|3-25||Kentucky||- 8.5||Baylor||Kentucky 82-70|
Overall, NCAA Tournament Betting Favorites of 8-or-more points are 11-7-1 ATS (against the spread) for a .611 winning rate but we're sure you noticed that three of Kentucky's four tourney games this spring had 'em laying large prices with the lone non-cover coming in a rocking-chair 15-point triumph over Western Kentucky back in "Second Round" play.
Meanwhile, Louisville is the only one of this quartet of teams in action this Saturday in New Orleans that's been un the underdog role in this tournament - the Cardinals were 57-44 winners as 5 ½-point dogs against Michigan State in Sweet 16 play in Phoenix last Thursday night plus the 'Ville was a 1-point underdog in its exciting 72-68 come-from-behind win against Florida last Saturday in Elite 8 action and so there is some recent "history" here with Rick Pitino's team having cashed out as a dog side.
Let's get into some more numbers here while chewing on some early-bird previews. Note that our extensive NCAA Tournament Final Four Previews will come your way in Friday's edition of Jim Sez.
THE FINAL FOUR
#1 KENTUCKY (36-2) vs. #4 LOUISVILLE (30-9) - 6:09 p.m. ET, CBS
There are only four teams in the history of college basketball that have won five-or-more NCAA Tournament national championships and they are UCLA (11), Kentucky (7), Indiana (5) and North Carolina (5) and so only one of the sport's true kings are in action here - Louisville's won a pair of national titles (see 1980 and '86) but it's really been a long time between mint juleps for the Redbirds.
Still, keep this in mind: Since Louisville's first title back in 1980 the Cards and UK Wildcats each have won just two championships with Kentucky banging out national titles in 1996 under Pitino and in 1998 under Tubby Smith and so for all the hoopla and history between these guys they have accounted for only four national crowns in the past 31 years while Duke and Connecticut have combined for seven national crowns since 1991 ... now that puts things into a different perspective, right?
Okay, back to some numbers:
No surprise that powerhouse Kentucky ranks inside the top 20 nationally in both points per game (77.1) and field-goal percentage (.487) as these numbers get 'em rankings of 20th and 10th, respectively. On the flip side, Louisville doesn't exactly qualify as an offensive powerhouse these days as the Cardinals rank 155th nationally in points scored per game (68.8) and 225th in field goal percentage (.425) but how about the fact that Louisville owns an eight-game winning streak while heading into this matchup while Kentucky's only won its last four in a row?
Note that this is the 14th appearance in the Final Four for the Kentucky 'Cats while it marks the 8th time that Louisville has been part of Final Four play.
#2 OHIO STATE (31-7) vs. #2 KANSAS (31-6) - approximately 8:45 p.m. ET
Let's stay on some national championship talk for a moment and remind you that Kansas has won three NCAA Tourney titles in its lifetime (see 1952, 1988 and 2008) while Ohio State owns just one crown (see 1960) and isn't it a little interesting to note that all four of the head coaches here in New Orleans (that's Kentucky's John Calipari, Louisville's Pitino, Kansas' Bill Self and Ohio State's Thad Matta) each has appeared as least once in a national championship game as some folks tend to forget the 2007 Buckeyes bunch that fell to Florida with Matta on the O-State sidelines.
More numbers ... Note that Ohio State ranks 35th nationally in points per game with 75.1 points an outing while the 'Eyes are one of the country's best shooting teams while nailing a .486 field-goal percentage that's 12th-best in the land. Meanwhile, Kansas averages 75 points a game to rank 36th in the country while the Jayhawks - who have been known to be spotty on the offensive end this year - are a much-better-than-you-think 14th in the country in field-goal percentage while hitting on 48.5 percent of their shots from the floor.
This is the 13th appearance in the Final Four for Kansas; It marks the 10th Final Four appearance for Ohio State.
Now hear this ... Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers have roared through this 2012 College Basketball post-season with NCAA Tournament, NIT, CBI and CIT winners and there's more to come in all of these post-season tournies plenty there's plenty of NBA Winners on tap too when you sign up today and be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the winning selections. Baseball started early Wednesday in Japan as Jim Hurley won the side and total as Seasttle beat Oakland 3-1. Sign up for baseball now at the early bird price.
THE NIT CHAMPIONSHIP GAME IS SET - STANFORD & MINNESOTA COP SEMIFINAL WINS
STANFORD 74, MASSACHUSETTS 64 - The Pac-12 was hoping to make it a clean sweep at "The Garden" last night but only the Stanford Cardinal (25-11) came through thanks to some clutch shooting by Anthony Brown who scored 13 of his 18 points after intermission. The truth of the matter is Stanford didn't shoot it very well as Johnny Dawkins' club drained just 24-of-65 FG tries (that's 36.9 percent) and Umass saw its brilliant NIT run ended because point guard Chaz Williams was "off" his game with three first-half fouls while shooting 7-of-18 from the floor for 19 points with 3 assists and 4 turnovers. Too many times Williams penetrated the Stanford defense and had no options and the 2 ½-point underdog Minutemen simply couldn't sink a three-ball (see 5-of-22 from beyond the arc).
MINNESOTA 68, WASHINGTON 67 (overtime) - The Minny Golden Gophers have now won four games in a row away from home to get to Thursday's NIT Championship Game as Tubby Smith's squad followed up road wins at LaSalle, Miami and Middle Tennessee State to nab this OT win in New York City but the Big 10 guys nearly gagged up a 15-point first-half lead but survived late thanks to frosh G Dre Hollins (20 points). This tilt nearly had a different winner but C.J. Wilcox's desperation heave at the end of OT missed the mark while some 7,574 folks held their breath. Wilcox had tied the game with 16.3 seconds in regulation after a steal and lay-in but a real killer here was the fact Washington's starting back court shot a collective 14-of-45 from the floor and G Abdul Gaddy made some bonehead plays in OT including a bad turnover when the Huskies had all the momentum.
NOTE: Lots more NCAA Tournament Final Four coverage all week long right here at Jim Sez plus we will have an NIT Championship Preview in tomorrow's column too.