Elite 8 Betting Lines Analysis
March Madness Betting Guidance
By Dan Favale
Kansas (-7) vs. Oregon (+7)
With all due respect to Oregon, this one is going to Kansas.
They have slaughtered everyone the tournament has thrown at them. And it hasn’t even been close. All three of their wins have come by at least 20 points. Their average margin of victory is 30 points. They are hot, scorchingly so.
The over/under is the real question here. Kansas’ games have all obliterated the over, while Oregon’s games have, on average, hovered around 150 total points. And that’s with a Game 1 outlier. Their last two tilts have failed to hit the 150-point benchmark.
Still, let’s roll with the over, because Kansas has been that good, and that dominant, and that seemingly unstoppable.
The Pick: Kansas (-7), over
Gonzaga (-8) vs. Xavier (+8)
Xavier has been this year’s biggest bracket-buster. They weren’t favored in either of their first three matchups, as tends to be the case with 11-seeds.
For those thinking their run is a fluke, it’s not. They made a statement in their win over Florida State in the Round of 32. And then they made another statement with their victory over Arizona in the Sweet 16. They took down two top-three seeds, all decidedly.
It almost makes you wonder why the spread is this big. Gonzaga’s defense has been on point, but it isn’t even averaging 69 points per game for the tournament. Combine that with an Xavier defense that’s allowing just 71 points a night, and this doesn’t have the makings of the a game that will be determined by more than five points—even if it’s the top-seeded Gonzaga that ultimately wins.
The Pick: Xavier (+8), under
Florida (-4) vs. South Carolina (+4)
Two of South Carolina’s three tournament victories have come by at least 20 points, while two of Florida’s three tournament wins have come by at least 15.
What a world.
This game is interesting because both teams have shown they can win ugly and decidedly. They’ve each thrived in defensive slugfests. They’ve both survived offensive shootouts.
The over/under is equally intriguing because it’s so darn low. South Carolina is averaging over 83 points per game, and Florida is topping 75. Some of their blowout wins prove to be outliers, but even so, the over has generally been a reliable play throughout the brackets. When it’s this low against team averages that are markedly higher, that’s the route to go.
The Pick: Florida (-4), over
North Carolina (-2.5) vs. Kentucky (+2.5)
This is no doubt the matchup everyone wants to see. Two marquee schools waging battle in the Elite Eight, both, seemingly, at the top of their games.
North Carolina enters averaging 89 points per game. Kentucky enters allowing 69 points per game. It doesn’t get more head-to-head contrarian than that.
What this comes down to is whether North Carolina’s offense can survive Kentucky’s defensive gauntlet. Coach John Calipari’s crew stymied UCLA, owners of the best offense in the country, during the Sweet 16. North Carolina’s scoring machine might be nothing compared to that.
And for their part, North Carolina hasn’t been a defensive slouch. They’re allowing opponents to score under 70 points per game. Even if they cannot meet their tournament average in scoring, they have that to fall back on, against a Kentucky offense that has been inconsistent, putting up 76 points a night.
The Pick: Kentucky (+2.5), under
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