The last two remaining No. 1 seeds standing at the Big Dance are both solid betting favorites to reach Monday’s national championship game.
The last two remaining No. 1 seeds standing at the Big Dance are both solid betting favorites to reach Monday’s national championship game at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
Just do not tell that to the seventh-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks (26–10) and third-seeded Oregon Ducks (33–5), who each overcame the odds to get to Saturday’s Final Four in Glendale, Ariz.
The Gamecocks have emerged as the quintessential Cinderella team, starting with their upset of the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils in the second round of the East Region.
Head coach Frank Martin’s squad disposed of the preseason No. 1 team in the country that had just won the ACC Tournament and many picked to cut down the nets. Instead, South Carolina outscored Duke 65–51 in the second half of an 88–81 victory after trailing by seven points at halftime, and covered the spread as a 6.5-point underdog.
The Gamecocks have been underdogs in four straight games, including this national semifinal matchup with the top-seeded and 6.5-point betting favorite Gonzaga Bulldogs, who had a much easier path.
The Bulldogs (36–1) are making their first Final Four appearance, but they were expected to be here after being favored in every one of their games so far this season. They got to face the 11th-seeded Xavier Musketeers in the West Regional Final and routed them 83–59 as 8.5-point favorites following a narrow 61–58 win over the fourth-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers as three-point chalk in the Sweet 16.
Gonzaga is 21-7-2 against the spread in its last 30 games, according to the OddsShark College Basketball Database.
The North Carolina Tar Heels are the other top seed that survived, and they were surprisingly the lone ACC school to make the Sweet 16. Unlike the other title contenders here, they have been to the Final Four many times before, including just last year when they made their 19th appearance before losing the national title game to the Villanova Wildcats on a last-second shot.
North Carolina has made it to the championship game exactly half the time (10) the program has reached the Final Four.
But the Tar Heels will have to deal with another energetic opponent like the Wildcats this time around in the third-seeded Oregon Ducks, who won a pick’em game against the seventh-seeded Michigan Wolverines 69–68 before upsetting the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks 74–60 as 6.5-point underdogs in the Midwest Regional Final.
Oregon is trying to win its first national title since 1939, with North Carolina taking home five between 1957 and 2009, its last under head coach Roy Williams. The Ducks are listed as five-point betting underdogs for Saturday.