The 2017 Final Four is nearly upon us, and Saturday’s national semifinal matchups look lopsided from a betting perspective with neither favorite giving less than five points.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
But that is what you get when you have two No. 1 seeds playing opponents who were not expected to get to Glendale and lack the experience of going deep into the Big Dance.
Of course the Gonzaga Bulldogs (36-1) are making their first-ever Final Four appearance too, yet they have been favored in every game this season. The Bulldogs earned the top seed in the West Region and have not had to face a team seeded higher than fourth during their current run.
If the Bulldogs make Monday’s national title game, though, they will either meet the third-seeded Oregon Ducks (33-5) out of the Midwest Region or the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels (31-7) from the South.
However, first Gonzaga will take on the seventh-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks (26-10) as 6.5-point favorites in the first semifinal. The Gamecocks won the East, knocking out the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils, third-seeded Baylor Bears and fourth-seeded Florida Gators.
The only thing missing for South Carolina is a win over a No. 1 seed, and that could definitely happen here in this spot. The Gamecocks have won three in a row as dogs, with none of them decided by less than seven points. Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have won eight of their last nine versus SEC opponents.
In the second semifinal, the Tar Heels are listed as five-point favorites, and they are an impressive 8-0 straight up and 7-1 against the spread in their last eight against Pac-12 foes.
The Ducks have not made it this far in the NCAA Tournament since winning it all the way back in 1939 when only eight schools qualified compared to 68 today. Oregon has not faced North Carolina since 2008, suffering a 98-69 defeat as a 16.5-point road underdog.
The Ducks upset the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks 74-60 in the Elite Eight, covering easily as 6.5-point dogs last Saturday. They are 10-3 ATS in their previous 13 Saturday games, and the Tar Heels may be ripe for another upset if point guard Joel Berry II continues to be hampered by a pair of sprained ankles suffered during the tournament.