NCAA Tournament 2012: Final Four Predictions and Betting Odds Update

Jeff Grant@@JeffGrantSportsContributor IMarch 31, 2012

NCAA Tournament 2012: Final Four Predictions and Betting Odds Update

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    The 2012 NCAA tournament has reached its final stage, as the Final Four is set to begin in less than six hours inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. 

    Las Vegas oddsmakers have seen very little movement in the betting odds since they were established for both matchups last weekend, but that could definitely change due to the amount of money that will pour in over the next few hours. 

    Let's take a closer look at the numbers, and also check out some proposition wagers that are available in the betting market.

Louisville Cardinals vs. Kentucky Wildcats

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    The Kentucky Wildcats continue to be 8.5-point favorites against the Louisville Cardinals in Saturday's first matchup, which isn't very surprising given that they were 10-point home favorites in the first meeting in Lexington on Dec. 31.

    It's important to note that the Wildcats were released as eight-point favorites, but they've never fallen back to that number since.

    Every time the betting odds have reached nine in this rivalry game, underdog bettors have snatched the underdog Cardinals at that particular price.

    Louisville is 8-0 against the spread on a neutral floor this year, which could be the strongest trend that sports bettors rely on when going up to the window.

    I established Kentucky as 9.5-point favorites earlier in the week and will likely lay the points.

Kansas Jayhawks vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    The Ohio State Buckeyes could be flying under the radar in this tournament due to the amount of attention that the Kentucky Wildcats have received.

    Ohio State has remained a 2.5-point favorite in their matchup with the Kansas Jayhawks, as the program will be seeking revenge from a 78-67 loss as 1.5-point road underdogs on Dec. 10.

    The Buckeyes have covered three of their first four tournament games, missing out on a perfect 4-0 against-the-spread (ATS) mark due to a 73-66 win over the Gonzaga Bulldogs as eight-point favorites in the Round of 32.

    Plenty of recreational bettors are going to side with the Jayhawks because they're rarely the underdog, but they are 4-7 ATS on a neutral court this year.

    I'll be playing the Buckeyes due to my handicapper line representing a full point of value against the Las Vegas number.

Kentucky Wildcats vs. Louisville Cardinals, Winning Margin

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    If you anticipate that the Kentucky Wildcats will beat the Louisville Cardinals by seven points for the second time this season, then you should definitely play a winning margin proposition at Bovada sports book.

    A seven-to-nine point victory by the Wildcats is currently being offered at betting odds of 6-1.

    The favored option in the betting market is Kentucky advancing to the championship game with a three-to-six point win.

    Long-shot bettors will definitely have fun in wagering on the Louisville Cardinals upsetting the top-ranked team in the country by 21 or more points, which would result in a payout at 60-1 odds.

    I'd stay away from making any wagers that have the Cardinals winning this game by any margin.

William Buford, Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Ohio State senior guard William Buford has been relatively quiet during the 2012 NCAA tournament, but he'll need to rise to the occasion against the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday.

    He comes in averaging 14.4 points per game, which is just a tick higher than the amount of points that Bovada sports book anticipates him scoring in the Final Four.

    Buford made eight-of-23 shot attempts and finished with 21 points on the road against the Jayhawks earlier this year, as the Buckeyes played that game without Jared Sullinger in Lawrence.

    I don't anticipate the same number of shots, but I expect him to have plenty of open looks due to the slugfest that's expected in the paint between these two physical teams.

    William Buford to score over 13.5 points (-120)

2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Matchup

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    The Kentucky Wildcats have risen to new levels during the 2012 NCAA tournament, winning all four previous games by double-digit margins to reach the Final Four in New Orleans.

    I don't expect an underdog victory on Saturday, but Bovada sports book isn't offering much value for the Wildcats to meet the Ohio State Buckeyes on Monday.

    A great opportunity exists in playing this proposition if you believe the Louisville Cardinals can shock the world inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

    You're guaranteed a profit if that happens:

    Kentucky Wildcats vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (Even)

    Kentucky Wildcats vs. Kansas Jayhawks (+175)

    Louisville Cardinals vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (+650)

    Louisville Cardinals vs. Kansas Jayhawks (+850)