The top-seeded Gonzaga Bulldogs (36-1) enter their first Final Four as solid favorites in the opening national semifinal game versus the seventh-seeded South Carolina Gamecocks (26-10) on Saturday at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
The Gamecocks are also playing in their first Final Four, and both schools took advantage of weakened regions to get here.
Point spread: The Bulldogs opened as 6.5-point favorites; the total is at 138, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
March Madness betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 72.1-65.8 Bulldogs (College basketball picks on every game)
Why South Carolina can cover the spread
You can throw most betting trends away when handicapping this South Carolina squad because all that really matters is its current NCAA tournament run.
The Gamecocks have upset the second-seeded Duke Blue Devils, third-seeded Baylor Bears and fourth-seeded Florida Gators as underdogs in the East Region, where the national champion Villanova Wildcats lost in the second round to the eighth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers.
South Carolina has been an outstanding second-half team throughout the Big Dance, trailing at the break three times before rallying for the victory.
Head coach Frank Martin has performed better than any other in his role during the tournament, and his motivational approach has gotten the most from each and every one of his players.
Why Gonzaga can cover the spread
For the Bulldogs, getting the opportunity to play a No. 11 seed in the Elite Eight was more than favorable. They avoided a scare against the fourth-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers in the Sweet 16 of the West Region before disposing of the Xavier Musketeers, who had upset the second-seeded Arizona Wildcats, third-seeded Florida State Seminoles and sixth-seeded Maryland Terrapins heading into their matchup.
Regardless, Gonzaga covered the spread easily in an 83-59 rout of Xavier as an 8.5-point favorite last Saturday and has gone a remarkable 21-7-2 against the spread at online betting sites in its last 30 games.
Smart betting pick
Depth could finally catch up to the Gamecocks in this spot because the Bulldogs can hit you in waves.
South Carolina point guard Sindarius Thornwell has been one of the best players in the tournament, but counterpart Nigel Williams-Goss of Gonzaga will push him hard on the defensive end and could get him into some early foul trouble.
That one matchup will be the difference with Williams-Goss winning it and helping the Bulldogs improve to 9-1 in 10 games against SEC foes, and cover the spread, to get to the title game.
March Madness betting trends
Gonzaga is 21-7-2 ATS in its last 30 games.
The total has gone under in four of Gonzaga's last five games as a favorite.
The total has gone under in 21 of South Carolina's last 30 games as an underdog.
South Carolina is 1-7 ATS in its last eight games on a Saturday.
All college basketball lines and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.