By Adam Thompson | | 4 mins
Final Four Betting Odds: 3 Teams To Pick & 3 Teams To Avoid
Winning a national championship is the ultimate goal for all college basketball teams, but when you hear players and coaches talk, often the first thing mentioned is playing in the Final Four. It’s an accomplishment that raises banners and gets fans of college basketball betting excited, a seemingly attainable goal for even the George Masons and VCUs of the world.
DraftKings has posted odds on teams making the Final Four. The numbers aren’t as high as the one you’ll get on national title wagers, but there are four winners, and better chances a Cinderella can pull off the feat.
Bookies.com senior handicapper Adam Thompson reveals three teams to consider and three teams to steer clear of as March Madness betting gets set to begin.
Final Four Odds
|San Diego State||+450|
Odds are current as of publication. Check here for updates.
No. 1 seeds are still No. 1
First, a little history lesson. Since the NCAA Tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 (it's now 68), being a higher seed absolutely improves the chances a team gets to the Final Four.
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A whopping 40.8% of Final Four teams in the last 35 years have been a No. 1 seed. The percentage of No. 2 seeds that get to the final weekend is 20.8%. That number drops to 12.1% for No. 3s, 9.3% for No. 4s and 17.1% for everyone else combined.
However, things have shifted more toward the underdog lately. Since 2010, No. 1 seeds have garnered only 32.5% of berths, just over one per year. No. 2 seeds are at 17.5%, while No. 3s and No. 4s are 10% while No. 5s, No. 7s, No. 8s and No. 11s have multiple berths. Oddly, no No. 6 seeds have advanced.
3 Teams To Back
Ten of the last 12 championship teams have ranked in the top seven in offensive efficiency. Only one has finished outside the top 20. Kansas ranks No. 8 in offense, but also No. 1 in defense. The Jayhawks have developed a reputation for folding in March, but they’ve won 14 in a row and are on pace to be the No. 1 overall seed. Overall top seeds haven’t made it to the Final Four in four years, but overall they’ve advanced to the semifinals in seven of 15 years.
San Diego State +450
The strength of schedule may not be otherworldly, but the results have been. The Aztecs have just one loss, including a perfect 14-0 mark away from home and rank No. 2 in scoring margin (16.2 ppg, behind only Gonzaga). They do have an impressive road win at BYU (where Gonzaga just got beat) and pounded tournament teams Creighton by 31 and Iowa by 10. The Aztecs may end up as a No. 1 or 2 seed, and we’re getting odds that suggest they should be 3 or 4.
Ohio State +800
The Buckeyes are just seventh in the Big Ten standings, but their offensive and defense efficiency rankings are each in the top 20 — just six teams can boast that. And they have a number of impressive wins, including crushing Villanova and North Carolina each by 25 and Penn State by 32, beating Kentucky and Maryland, and handling Michigan twice. They’re also getting hot at the right time, winning eight of 10. OSU’s odds are higher than they should be, making the Buckeyes a sound value pick.
3 Teams To Avoid
The Flyers have just two losses, and both were in overtime. That said, those were against the only two NCAA Tournament-level teams they faced all season (Kansas and Colorado). Over the last six seasons, just two mid-major programs have advanced to the Final Four, and one of those was Gonzaga as the overall No. 1 seed — I prefer San Diego State more than Dayton at this point. Dayton is right up there with anyone in offensive efficiency, but its 50th-ranked defense and the gauntlet of top-level competition may be liabilities before the national semifinals.
The Terrapins have the sixth-lowest odds of any team, but their record against NCAA-level challengers hasn’t been consistent. They’re just 4-6 in their last 10 against the surefire Big Dance teams. Maryland has an elite 1-2 combo in guard Anthony Cowan Jr. (16.1 ppg) and forward Jalen Smith (15.3 ppg), so I’m not all-in on fading the Terps, but the confidence isn’t there to bank on them at such low odds.
The Tigers may end up second in the SEC, but they also played no at-large level competition in non-conference play and have lost three of five down the stretch. They rank outside the top 40 in total offense and total defense. Auburn did defy the odds to get to the Final Four last year, but this is a different team and it’s not peaking right now, as it was last year.