Today marks the last time in the 2017-18 college basketball season that we will have multiple games on the same day. (I teared up typing that.) That said, it’s a bittersweet day, as we have two outstanding Final Four matchups that almost nobody predicted 100% accurately. (Only 550 brackets of 17.3 million entires on ESPN picked the Final Four correctly. I think we found the Loyola alums!) We have a little bit of everything in San Antonio. Two No. 1 seeds that have each won national titles over the past decade and two non-No. 1 seeds that own the country’s only 10-plus game winning streaks. Both games have almost identical spreads, but dramatically different totals. Expect two very different games on Saturday. Should be a little bit for everybody. OK, enough chatter, let’s get into our Final Four betting guide.
Below, we will examine the matchups on both ends of the floor, look at trends, interesting nuggets and sharp action. We will also provide our experts’ favorite bets for both Saturday games.
Don’t forget to check back here up until tip for insight into last-minute sharp action, significant line moves and any other betting market info.
All spreads as of Friday evening.
#11 Loyola Chicago vs. #3 Michigan -5 | O/U: 130
San Antonio, TX | 6:09 p.m. ET on TBS
By Jordan Majewski
Loyola big man Cam Krutwig will be the most important player on both ends of the floor Saturday night. Let’s dive into the reasons why.
When Loyola chicago has the Ball
The all-caps, bold print question for the Ramblers is how many minutes can Krutwig play? If he can go 20-25 minutes, Loyola will have a more than legitimate shot to win. If he’s limited to only 10-15, that means Michigan’s game plan to keep him off the floor worked, and the Wolverines will likely play for a national championship.
The disparity in Loyola’s efficiency in the tournament with Krutwig on and off the court is staggering. Offensively, the Ramblers have scored 1.21 points per possession (ppp) with Krutwig on the court, but just .96 ppp when he’s off. Those splits represent an almost equal amount of possessions in both scenarios. Krutwig’s ability to command attention in the post makes the spacing in head coach Porter Moser’s 4-out motion offense infinitely better. Krutwig is not just an efficient back-to-the-basket scorer, as he is also an outstanding passer out of the post.
With Krutwig on the court, not only will Moser’s ball-screen-continuity offense run more efficiently from the perimeter, but Krutwig himself will also have an advantage in the post against Michigan big man Moe Wagner. To put it bluntly, Wagner is a very poor post defender, grading out in just the 25th percentile nationally in ppp allowed, per Synergy. Wagner is also foul prone when forced to defend at the rim. If Moser can get Wagner off the floor by pounding the ball inside early and often (which Loyola tends to do, as it ranks 36th nationally in shot rate at the rim), the Ramblers could easily continue their dream run.