College Basketball Betting Pace Report: 3 Over/Unders to Target for Duke vs. North Carolina & Kansas vs. Villanova (April 2)

College Basketball Betting Pace Report: 3 Over/Unders to Target for Duke vs. North Carolina & Kansas vs. Villanova (April 2) article feature image

Patrick Smith/Getty Images. Pictured: Brady Manek.

  • The Final Four is here, and there are plenty of bets to make based on pace and matchup advantages.
  • Collin Wilson found a first-half under, a team total over and a full-game over for Duke vs. North Carolina and Kansas vs. Villanova.
  • Check out Wilson's pace breakdown's for both Final Four games below.

It’s time for a Final Four pace report, as four of the biggest blue bloods in college basketball will square off to determine a national champion at the Caesars Superdome in New Orleans.

There’s no denying that a lack of points has been associated with the later rounds of the NCAA Tournament. Whether fatigue or matchups have been a factor, defense has been the dominating force in the current edition of March Madness.

The stage is set in New Orleans for one of the slowest teams in Villanova, while Kansas and North Carolina are set on pushing the tempo. This article will look at the offensive and defensive tempo styles, looking for the handicap set on the current totals.

Villanova vs. Kansas

6:09 p.m. ET on TBS
Total: 133

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Villanova and Kansas match up statistically. Data via KenPom as of Sunday, March 13:

Villanova Offense vs. Kansas Defense
Turnover %31175
Rebound Rate75176
Free Throw Rate170118

Kansas Offense vs. Villanova Defense
Turnover %119148
Rebound Rate33187
Free Throw Rate11747

Pace of Play

The Wildcats will be without one of their stars in Justin Moore, who suffered an Achilles tear and will require surgery. Head coach Jay Wright is down to just five players in the rotation, a large issue for a team that ranked 323rd in bench minutes.

Moore made 80 shots beyond the arc at a rate of 36%, representing a large hit to a Vilanova team that is 25th in point distribution from the 3-point line.

Another issue for the Wildcats is Moore’s ability to handle the ball, as he served as the primary point guard when Collin Gillespie sat on the bench. Gillespie has played 85% of Wildcat minutes this season, but who will pick up the slack in bringing the ball up the court other than the senior? It’s a mystery.

Villanova is one of the slowest teams in the nation, ranking 349th in average offensive possession length. Kansas does not attempt to speed up opposing offenses, ranking 269th in average defensive possession length.

Nova runs a high frequency of pick and roll, along with off-the-dribble 3-point attempts in a half-court set. The Jayhawks defense has a higher efficiency rate than Villanova in all of the aforementioned offensive sets the Wildcats want to execute.

Kansas has one offensive agenda: get opposing defenses into transition. The Jayhawks are 40th in average offensive possession length. Head coach Bill Self has the 47th-highest rate of transition and ranks 29th in efficiency.

The Wildcats are 79th in defending transition on the season, an aspect under the microscope without Moore in the rotation. Another area Kansas has the edge in is offensive rebounding, making quick putback points a focal point.

If there’s an example this season of a team pushing to transition on Villanova, look no further than three games against St. John’s.

The Red Storm are the fastest offensive team in the nation and ran totals of 135, 144 and a lower 131 in the conference tournament. Teams that want to push pace on Villanova have had success in eclipsing the total and covering the spread in near upsets.

KenPom projects a total of 139, while ShotQuality expects a total of 139.5 — both totals well over the current market number.

There’s a strong correlation between teams playing in large venues — generally NFL stadiums — and first-half unders. Over the last three years, per Action Labs, first-halves in the month of April have gone under at a 67% clip.

While the first-half under is a play to add to the portfolio, it’s hard to see Villanova completing a full 40 minutes with just a five-player rotation. Kansas will push transition and dominate the paint with second-chance points.

This total has seen sharp action on the under in the early betting market, but an alternative to betting the Kansas spread is taking a team total over.

Pick: 1H Under 62 (Play to 61) · Kansas Team Total Over 68.5 or Better

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North Carolina vs. Duke

8:49 p.m. ET on TBS
Total: 151

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how North Carolina and Duke match up statistically. Data via KenPom as of Sunday, March 13:

North Carolina Offense vs. Duke Defense
Turnover %60309
Rebound Rate89217
Free Throw Rate1762

Duke Offense vs. North Carolina Defense
Turnover %21347
Rebound Rate582
Free Throw Rate23610

Pace of Play

The biggest rivalry in college basketball may not have any higher stakes in either programs’ history. North Carolina and Duke have never met in the NCAA Tournament, and the winner of this event receives a berth in the national championship game.

After beating Duke in the regular-season finale at Cameron Indoor, North Carolina now has a chance to send Mike Krzyzewski into retirement.

Despite each team winning at the opponent’s home court this season, Duke managed to score over 80 points in both games. The Blue Devils have scored at least 78 points in nine of their last 10 games, a high number for a Duke team that ranks 181st in average offensive possession.

North Carolina welcomes a fast pace, ranking 39th in tempo with top-100 ranks in average length of possession on both sides of the court.

In the last meeting, Duke was content to play a game that ended with 75 possessions. It led through the first 30 minutes of the game. North Carolina continued to push transition and outscored Duke, 35-20, in the final 10 minutes.

Despite the thrashing, Duke is favored by four points in a rematch just four weeks later. Although Duke has the second-best defensive free-throw rate in the nation, North Carolina converted 19-of-22 free throws back on March 5.

Neither team sends opponents to the free-throw line, as they own top-10 defensive rates. The question is if both teams will continue to shoot north of 36% from beyond the arc while Duke allows North Carolina to push tempo.

The Tar Heels shot below their season average from beyond the arc against Saint Peter’s and UCLA. Head coach Hubert Davis prefers an offense that relies on a heavy frequency of off-dribble 3-pointers from Brady Manek and post-up attempts from Armando Bacot.

Manek, in particular, has shot almost 50% from beyond the arc in 34 attempts during the NCAA Tournament. The 2-3 zone implemented by Duke against Arkansas in the Elite Eight will not be a formula for success against the Tar Heels.

The Blue Devils won in Chapel Hill by 20 points with a slower pace — just 69 possessions on the game. Manek still shot 6-of-10 from 3-point range, but the rest of the Tar Heels were shut down in the Feb. 5 showdown.

Duke has distinct advantages in transition while executing cuts to the basket and catch-and-shoot 3-pointers.

Playing in the Superdome will be an adjustment for long and mid-range jump shots through the first 10 minutes of the game, as neither team finishes at the rim at a high frequency.

While a first-half under is projected for a slow-paced Villanova game, North Carolina vs. Duke should be an up-and-down jump-shooting festival.

KenPom projects 154, with ShotQuality at 152.5.

This game may be a great live-betting bonanza, considering the jumpers will fall once the players get enough looks at the rim.

While the play is the full-game over considering pace and the fact that each team ranks outside the top 300 in defensive turnovers, creating a 10-point window between an over and under is the plan of execution after tip-off.

Pick: Over 151 (Play to 152.5)

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