Final Four 2021 Predictions, Picks and Odds

Looking for Final Four 2021 predictions, picks, and odds on the games between the Gonzaga Bulldogs vs UCLA Bruins and Houston Cougars and Baylor Bears? We have you covered with previews and analysis from a sports betting perspective.

Pred. Score

Line

PR

GS Line

Avg. PR

Avg. OPR

SUR (H/A)

ATS (H/A)

O/U (H/A)

Pts. Diff. (H/A)

Avg. Line (H/A)

Houston U60134.55-141721-1 / 5-315-7 / 5-39-13 / 4-4+19.5 / +8.1-13 / -10
Baylor72-5601519-1 / 7-112-8 / 6-213-7 / 4-4+20 / +11.1-18 / -9
While the Pac-12 has received a lot of accolades for the surprising performance of its reps in the Dance, we’d be remiss if not reminding that the old Southwest Conference has done pretty well, too, as three of its former members reached the Elite 8, and two of them meet here in the Final Four. As for Baylor, it has been here before, but not for a while, or since Harry Truman was in the White House in 1950. Houston? Been here, done that, too, but not since 1984, the last of three straight Final Four visits for Phi Slama Jamma, nearly a generation after back-to-back Final Fours in 1967-68 featuring Elvin Hayes. Neither, however, has ever won it all. And while we never want to shortchange a side for reaching this stage of the tourney, at times we are left wondering a bit about Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars, who have only beaten double-digit seeded teams to this point in the Dance and were on the ropes not only in the second round vs. Rutgers but also watched Oregon State make a late run to erase a 17-point second-half deficit on Monday. In the end vs. the Beavers it was mostly UH making late free throws, and OSU struggling from the line, that proved the difference as much as the big edge the Cougs owned off of the offensive glass, garnering an impressive 19-7 edge (though many of those came on “long” rebounds and caroms that gave UH extra possessions and extra shots). We are simply not as sure that the ball bounces the same way against a Baylor defense that has mostly locked down in the Dance and was almost solely responsible for the Sweet 16 win over Villanova, holding the Cats to only 21 second-half points. Both teams have strength on the perimeter but here we give the edge to the Bears with their three-pronged assault force of Jared Butler (17 ppg), MaCio Teague (16 ppg), and Davion Mitchell (14 ppg), which paced the nation’s best three-point shooting attack (42%) and one of the highest-scoring offenses (84.4 ppg). We have a bit less confidence in the Houston Gs outside of ex-Kansas transfer Quentin Grimes (18 ppg), who hit the big three-pointer on Monday after OSU had tied the score late; Marcus Sasser and DeJon Jarreau have tended to blow a bit more hot-and-cold throughout the season. Lots of athleticism both ways, but the Bears have been able to score points a bit easier this season, and the long-range bombing that went on the blink vs. Villanova on the weekend (3 for 19 beyond arc) was working fine in the dome on Monday when Baylor hit better than 53% (8 for 15) from deep in the Elite 98 vs. the Razorbacks. It won’t be a picnic vs. the Cougs and their second-ranked scoring defense (57.6 ppg), but impressive win and covers vs. Wisconsin, aforementioned ‘Nova, and Eric Musselman’s Porkers suggests Scott Drew’s bunch is well beyond some of its subpar efforts following the February Covid pause. After being denied a chance to make a deep run last year by the pandemic, Baylor looks destined to get to the final this time around.
College Basketball Pick: Play Baylor (check updated Final Four Odds)

Last 5 Games

PF/PA

Pts. Diff.

Avg. PR

Avg. OPR

Avg. Line

SUR (H/A)

ATS (H/A)

O/U (H/A)

Houston U

74-55+18.6517-115-0 / 0-03-2 / 0-02-3 / 0-0

Baylor

74-65+9.6313-114-1 / 0-03-2 / 0-03-2 / 0-0

Results

Date

Opponent

Line

Total

Score

Results

Date

Opponent

Line

Total

Score

Houston U

03-29-21Oregon State-813067-61

Baylor

03-29-21Arkansas-7.514881-72
03-27-21Syracuse-6.514162-4603-27-21Villanova-7.5142.562-51
03-21-21Rutgers-7.513163-6003-21-21Wisconsin-6.5136.576-63
03-19-21Cleveland State-20.5134.587-5603-19-21Hartford-25.5138.579-55
03-14-21Cincinnati-1313591-5403-12-21Oklahoma State-914874-83
No recent meetings

Pred. Score

Line

PR

GS Line

Avg. PR

Avg. OPR

SUR (H/A)

ATS (H/A)

O/U (H/A)

Pts. Diff. (H/A)

Avg. Line (H/A)

UCLA67145.513101413-2 / 9-710-5 / 7-97-8 / 9-7+11.1 / +0.1-8 / 0
Gonzaga74-14-1-1401721-0 / 9-011-9 / 4-410-11 / 5-4+23.7 / +20.3-23 / -18
*** Key Release: UCLA

We’re getting to the point where instead of Gonzaga being measured against teams which it is facing this season, the Zags are being compared to some of the all-time great sides. It’s not as much Creighton, USC, or even UCLA on Saturday, the Bulldogs are now competing with past unbeaten champions such as John Wooden’s UCLA in the 60s and early 70s, and the great Bob Knight Indiana team of 1976, maybe Tark’s UNLV of 1990 or John Calipari’s Kentucky of 2012. We remind, however, that the last team looking this unbeatable into the Final Four was Calipari’s Kentucky of six years ago, though even that Karl-Anthony Towns-led side had some close calls along the way, including a hair-raiser vs. Notre Dame in the Elite 8. Then Wisconsin KO’d the Cats in the national semifinals. This 30-0 Gonzaga, however, is looking something special, with 27 straight wins by double-digit margins as it seeks to become the first unbeaten side in college hoops since those aforementioned Hoosiers in the bicentennial year. But, as the great Lee Corso often says on the football side…”Not so fast, my friends.” While many expect Mark Few’s juggernaut to flick off this darkhorse UCLA side as easily as it did the Bruins’ crosstown rival Trojans in the Elite 8, we instead see a path that keep Mick Cronin’s spunky bunch within earshot. It’s pace, which is everything in this matchup, as UCLA simply cannot hope to engage Gonzaga and its nation’s-best 92 ppg offense in an up-and-down the court type of game. The Zags put the SC game on Tuesday to bed early thanks to Few’s extended 1-2-2 zone defense that pressured the Trojans into numerous turnovers and easy buckets for the Bulldogs, who were cruising early 17-4 and never looked back. SC, however, had only one real ballhandler (Tahj Eaddy) on the floor in the early going, could not attack from the backside, and was vulnerable to such tactics; the Bruins, maybe not as much. Cronin’s bunch has been able to grind because it has enough components comfortable on the ball to control tempo accordingly. In particular, wily PG Tyger Campbell, who usually takes 8 or 9 seconds to simply get the ball across halfcourt, then patiently looks to run isolation with one of his wings, Johnny Juzang or Jaime Jaquez, allowing UCLA to grind. The Cronin offense is hardly complicated, not a lot of curls off of screens, but also not a lot of chances for the Zags to deny passing lanes, at which their better-than-advertised defense is adept. Of course, for the Bruins to stay close, someone other than Juzang (possible MOP of the Dance to this point, and having scored 28 of UCLA’s 51 points on Tuesday vs. Michigan) is going to have to score. Bill Walton’s alma mater is going to be severely challenged by the Zags’ balance and dynamism, but we suspect Drew Timme’s work in the paint won’t come as easily as it did on Tuesday vs. the Mobleys, who didn’t respond to the physical aspects of Timme and Corey Kispert as wella s might 6-9 Cody Riley (who has to be careful of fouls). Few’s star frosh PH Jalen Suggs, maybe up to the top of the NBA draft board, can certainly take over the game, and worth noting that “free-throw defense” (Bama and Michigan a combined 47% from the charity stripe the past two rounds) has helped the Bruins reach the Final Four. But sources tell us Cronin has UCLA believing it could beat the Lakers, much less Gonzaga. Perhaps that bravado is misplaced, and we believe the Zags indeed advance. But if the Bruins are as hardscrabble as they have appeared to this point in the Dance, and Cronin’s tactics do what we expect, there is a lane for the last Pac-12 rep to avoid humiliation and keep it interesting in the nightcap.
College Basketball Pick: Play UCLA (check updated Final Four Odds)

Last 5 Games

PF/PA

Pts. Diff.

Avg. PR

Avg. OPR

Avg. Line

SUR (H/A)

ATS (H/A)

O/U (H/A)

UCLA

73-63+9.8118+31-0 / 4-01-0 / 4-00-1 / 2-2

Gonzaga

88-67+21.2-014-175-0 / 0-04-1 / 0-02-3 / 0-0

Results

Date

Opponent

Line

Total

Score

Results

Date

Opponent

Line

Total

Score

UCLA

03-30-21@ Michigan+6.513751-49

Gonzaga

03-30-21USC-8.515285-66
03-28-21@ Alabama+7144.588-7803-28-21Creighton-12.515983-65
03-22-21Abilene Christian-5.513267-4703-22-21Oklahoma-15.515687-71
03-20-21@ BYU+3.513973-6203-20-21Norfolk State-3315498-55
03-18-21@ Michigan State+2.513486-8003-09-21BYU-1415788-78

College Basketball Picks and Predictions | NCAA Tournament Final Four Betting Report

The NCAA Tournament is one of the most-bet events on the sports calendar. That influx of public money can create some interesting opportunities to “fade the public” during March Madness. WagerTalk handicapper Steve Merril offers his thoughts on Saturday’s Final Four matchups between Gonzaga and UCLA; Houston and Baylor where the money and ticket count are flowing to one side. #NCAATournament | #FinalFour | #CollegeBasketball NCAA Tournament Final Four Games: 🏀Baylor -5 vs Houston (o/u 134.5) 🏀Gonzaga -14 vs UCLA (o/u 145.5)

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