Final 4 Free Pick: North Carolina-Villanova Total

The Wildcats have gone over the posted total in three of their four Tournament games, only staying under when they laid a 23-point beatdown on Duke in the Sweet 16. ‘Nova has averaged 81.0 points so far in the Tournament, which is a little higher than their season average of 77.0 points. Dwayne Anderson and Reggie Redding have stepped up to support Scottie Reynolds and Dante Cunningham, and the Wildcats, who are 17th in the country in free-throw shooting, have been money at the charity stripe: ‘Nova has hit 84.6% of their foul shots.

Strangely, the Tar Heels have gone under the total in three of their four Tournament games so far, and it’s strange because they’re No.2 in scoring in the NCAA. North Carolina is just under their season average of 90.0 points, scoring 88.75 points a game. However, their defense has taken some criticism this season as North Carolina has allowed 72.1 points a game, but in the Tournament, the Tar Heels are allowing only 66.2. The Elite Eight win over Oklahoma may have been UNC’s best defensive performance of the season, as they kept Sooners star Blake Griffin from taking over the game, and they harassed the rest of the Sooners into a 2-of-19 shooting performance from long distance. With defense like that, it’s easy to see why North Carolina are the Final Four betting favorites.

The Final Four betting total for this game is 159, and these two went under the total of 154.5 when UNC edged ‘Nova by one point in the 2005 Sweet 16. The Tar Heels obviously came into the Tournament looking to improve their defense, and with Ty Lawson back and healthy, their offense looks much more in control than they did in the opening win over Radford, in which they scored 101 points. ‘Nova can score points, but they would be wise to avoid a shootout with the Tar Heels, which would lead to a North Carolina romp. The Wildcats will look to keep the tempo down to give them their best chance of winning, while Lawson and Tyler Hansbrough, two high-percentage shooters, should dominate the UNC offense. One of last year’s Final Four games went under the total, and that was in UNC’s loss to Kansas. Make the under your Final Four betting pick in this showdown.

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