Underdog Betting On The Final Four: UNC And Villanova

  • Villanova has +170 odds to defeat Kansas in the Final Four.
  • UNC has +165 odds to defeat Duke on the other side of the bracket
  • Villanova will be without Justin Moore, an important player for their squad.

LAS VEGAS - The Final Four is set, and eighth-seeded North Carolina is set to take on second-seeded Duke in one half of the bracket, while first-seeded Kansas hosts second-seeded Villanova in the other.

Sports betting fans are familiar with how many upsets have already happened in this March Madness tournament, and how valuable wagering on underdogs can be in the event of such upsets.

These two games are no different - There is a defined favorite, and a defined underdog, with the underdog having significant value in the event of a victory.

Kansas Vs. Villanova Betting Odds

  • Kansas -200
  • Villanova +170

The online sportsbooks seem very sure that Kansas, the lone remaining #1 seed, is the favorite in this matchup.

However, according to ESPN’s BPI, the matchup is actually almost dead even, with Villanova having a 51.2% chance to win, and Kansas having a 48.8% chance to win.

Villanova and Kansas are not far off in the KenPom rankings either. Villanova’s Adjusted Efficiency Margin is +25.39, while Kansas’ is +26.66.

These are two teams who are roughly equal by several major statistical measurements, but the theoretical underdog is still getting +170 odds.

This is almost certainly because Justin Moore will be out for the game - an elite defender who can shoot the three, and a guy who they likely cannot replace.

Moore is their second-leading scorer and a big part of the team’s identity. It is possible that the statistical models are wrong with him out.

It’s likely that the sportsbooks are moving in the right direction here, and that Moore’s injury will prevent the Wildcats from playing up to the level they are capable of.

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Moore will be replaced by Caleb Daniels in the starting lineup, a player who averages only a few less points than him, but Daniels’ absence from bench units could be felt.

However, just ballparking it, it seems as though the sportsbooks forecast Moore’s injury to make Villanova play significantly worse - at about the level of a team six or so below them in the AdjEM category - a team like North Carolina.

Duke Vs. UNC Betting Odds

  • North Carolina +160
  • Duke -185

Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski is attempting to cap his career off with a big win in the NCAA Tournament.

Standing in his way is longtime rival North Carolina, the lowest seed remaining in the tournament.

Notably, North Carolina has better odds against Duke than Villanova does against Kansas, but neither ESPN’s BPI nor KenPom Adjusted Efficiency Margin back that up.

ESPN’s BPI metric gives North Carolina a 31.7% chance of winning this game, with Duke sitting pretty at 68.3%.

This is more or less in line with the odds being offered, give or take the vig.

KenPom sees a similar differential between the two teams. Duke’s Adjusted Efficiency Margin sits at +25.48, while North Carolina languishes at +19.68.

In this case, it seems like the models and the college basketball sportsbooks agree - Duke is a significant favorite in this rivalry matchup.