My picks have UConn and Kentucky to cover because I believe that they’re peaking at the perfect moment in the college basketball season, but when I bet the Final Four moneyline my approach is slightly different in one of the games. You can differ from my opinion if you want to, but I just went 4-0 SU and ATS in the Elite Eight.
Doing that meant taking Florida straight up against Dayton, while betting against them as -10.5 favorites. And what happened? They won 62-52 because “of course” right? The truth is that Florida is not a great bet overall because they tend to enjoy breaking the spirits of their opponents more so than running up the scoreboard. A strict and daring attention to defense forces, combined with their love of transition points on the other end, makes them a very tough team to deal with. You expend far too much energy offensively trying to find holes in Florida’s attack.
Backing UConn on the betting line is basically a faith play in Shabazz Napier overcoming the pitbull that is Scottie Wilbekin. And to be fully honest, that’s a toss-up play. Wilbekin is the best defender at his position, and Napier is the best offensive point guard in the country. So why take Florida on the moneyline and UConn on the spread?
I just think Shabazz will eventually start finding his stroke, and when he does that means the cover is there for the taking. But when I bet the Final Four moneyline, I am remembering that Connecticut struggles against teams built like these Gators. They were slaughtered twice by Louisville over the past month, and the Cardinals are a similarly constructed squad. Florida’s ability to grind in close games also makes me tepid to bet on them against the spread, as does their 4-3 ATS record in the post season so far. That’s mostly why I prefer a UConn cover and a Florida win.
If you’re going to bet the Final Four moneyline on FLA-UConn, you’re going to have to risk a bit more since the Gators are valued at -320 compared to their opponents +260 odds . But winning on a small payout line is still better than losing on a larger one, and that makes Florida’s moneyline number a great item to parlay if you so choose to.
Obviously, with Kentucky favored by -2.5 points against Wisconsin, I’m not really reaching here by backing them as a moneyline hedge play as well. The Wildcats are -135 while the Badgers are +115 so the value isn’t really that big or small either way.
The one thing I’m counting on with Kentucky is Julius Randle and Kentucky’s big men forcing Frank Kaminsky in to foul trouble. Kaminsky has become an offensive savant, but he’s still a toothpick of a defender that lacks the footwork and size to contend with the big boys. Randle and the Wildcats can expose this weakness, and if Wisconsin loses their catalyst then they’re a sinking ship.
Putting Kaminsky in danger foul-wise, and Patric Young going ballistic against an undersized UConn team are the two big reasons I prefer Florida and Kentucky. Obviously, metrics and trend wise there are a few others as well. Again, I prefer UConn to cover in their game against Florida but I just can’t see them working miracles to beat the Gators overall. When I bet the Final Four moneylines this weekend I’m backing the best team in the country and the most talented.