Kansas Jayhawks

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It’s been a crazy tournament full of wild upsets and thrilling finishes.

Despite the early-round upsets highlighted by the No. 15 seeded St. Peter’s Peacocks reaching the Elite Eight, we now have four blueblood teams that many expected to reach the Final Four (outside of the No. 8 seed UNC). Fans and sports bettors will be treated to two awesome games as the Duke Blue Devils will face the University of Carolina Tarheels and the Kansas Jayhawks will face the Villanova Wildcats. After an incredibly unpredictable first four rounds of action, Kansas is the only No. 1 seed remaining. However, according to FanDuel Sportsbook, Duke is the slight favorite to win it all at +150 with Kansas slightly trailing at +185. Meanwhile, Villanova is listed at +450 and North Carolina is the biggest longshot at +500.

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Now let’s dive into each game and find the best bets for these two matchups.

No. 2 Villanova Wildcats vs. No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks (-4.5)

Villanova has thrived over the last decade. They have one of the best programs in the country and are led by arguably the best coach in all of college basketball once Mike Krzyzewski retires after this season. Although Jay Wright has led the team to a nine-game winning streak and a second-place finish in the Big East, it feels like the Wildcats are not getting the respect they deserve, despite being a No. 2 seed in the tournament.

Villanova is just two wins away from its third NCAA Tournament since 2016. This program has evolved into one of the best programs in all of college basketball. That said, they did have one of the easier paths to the Final Four. Nova crushed Deleware in the first round by 20 points before cruising past Ohio State (71-61) for a trip to the Sweet Sixteen. Fortunately for the Wildcats, the No. 3 Tennessee Volunteers fell flat on their faces against the No. 11 Michigan Wolverines. Michigan played a good game but Nova advanced to the Elite Eight after a hard-fought eight-point victory. Yet again, the Wildcats lucked out as the top seed in the region, Arizona, were upset by the No. 5 Houston Cougars. While Houston is a decent team, they are nowhere nearly as talented as Arizona. Nova played one of their worst games of the tournament against Houston, converting a dismal 28.8% of their field-goal attempts. They also lost their second-leading scorer, Justin Moore, after he suffered a torn Achilles tendon. Despite all of that, Houston couldn’t take advantage of their opportunity and Villanova’s 15-of-15 from the charity stripe sealed the deal and clinched a spot in the Final Four.

Nova ranks in the top 10 in offensive efficiency, the top 20 in defensive efficiency, and are ninth in overall efficiency. However, they have yet to be truly tested by an elite team. That will change on Saturday when they face the Kansas Jayhawks. And without Justin Moore, Jermaine Samuels is going to have to play the game of his life. Samuels has scored in double figures and has converted at least 55% of his shots in all four games to this point in the tournament. The Senior forward is coming off a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double against Houston.

Kansas was the only No. 1 seed to reach the Final Four but they actually had an even easier path than Villanova. The Jayhawks have yet to face a team ranked in KenPom’s Top 25. The Jayhawks trounced Texas Southern by 27 points before meeting a decent Creighton team in the second round. Despite not being in the starting lineup, Remy Martin willed Kansas to victory with a team-high 20 points, seven rebounds, and four assists in 29 minutes off the bench. Martin only averaged 8.6 points per game in the regular season so his performance was critical as Kansas edged Creighton in the second round by seven points.

Next up in the Sweet Sixteen, the Jayhawks were challenged by the Providence Friars, the No. 4 seed in the Region. Providence led with under six minutes remaining before Kansas turned on the jets. Once again, Martin was extremely clutch off the bench with a game-high and season-high 23 points in 27 minutes. Jalen Wilson was just as pivotal in the Jayhawks’ five-point victory, as he tallied 16 points and 10 rebounds. Fortunately for Kansas, both Auburn and Wisconsin (the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the Midwest Region) were upset in the second round. Therefore, the Jayhawks only had to beat the No. 10 Miami Hurricanes to advance to the Final Four. Kansas trailed by six at halftime before producing perhaps their best half of basketball all season. They quickly erased the deficit and won by a whopping 26 points. After sixth man Remy Martin led the team in scoring in the first three games of the tournament, Naismith Player of the Year Finalist Ochai Agbaji finally produced a solid stat line with a game-high 18 points while converting 75% of his field goals.

So now, two of the top coaches in college basketball – Jay Wright and Bill Self – will face off for a chance at the title. Both coaches have tons of experience and both teams have a boatload of talent. That said, Kansas is the clear favorite. This will be the second game of the tournament that Villanova will enter as the underdog (they were three-point dogs against Houston).

Losing Justin Moore could be the reason that Nova’s championship aspirations get cut short this weekend. Not only did they lose their second-best scorer but the Wildcats are not a team known for their depth. Caleb Daniels has been an excellent sixth-man but he will likely enter the starting lineup and nobody else on the bench has averaged more than 10 minutes per game. That could be a huge problem for Nova.

Meanwhile, Kansas is one of the deepest teams in the country. Kansas has gotten this far despite mediocre performances from Big 12 Player of the Year Ochai Agbaji and big man David McCormack. Both finally performed well in the Elite Eight but the fact that Kansas was able to get that far despite their top players underperforming is a testament to their depth.

Considering the fact that Kansas has huge momentum after overcoming a deficit at the half in the Elite Eight and their much deeper bench, I expect the Jayhawks to win this game by a decent margin. Now with Agbaji and McCormack having broken through the glass, the Jayhawks should cover the spread against the undermanned Villanova Wildcats.

The Pick: Kansas -4.5

University of North Carolina Tar Heels vs. Duke Blue Devils (-4)

Will this be Coach K’s last game? North Carolina would love to disrupt a storybook ending for the greatest college basketball coach in the history of the game. Despite Coach K’s age, his team is a group of youthful energetic kids, but we have witnessed these young men mature on their way to the Final Four. The Blue Devils have had to face some very tough opponents yet they have survived unscathed. Duke lucked out in avoiding a matchup with Gonzaga but they still had to beat Arkansas (who defeated Gonzaga) in the Elite Eight, a ferocious Texas Tech squad in the Sweet Sixteen, and a solid Michigan State team in the second round of the tournament.

Duke has been incredibly clutch and their ability to get buckets in crunch time has been instrumental in their success. The Blue Devils have a ton of offensive firepower but the Tar Heels might be the only team that can match Duke’s high-powered offense.

North Carolina erupted for 95 points and a 32-point margin of victory over Marquette in the first round of the tournament. Then, they shocked the world by defeating Baylor, the No. 1 seed in the East in a thrilling overtime game. But the fun didn’t end there. These Tar Heels like being the underdog and in the Sweet Sixteen, they upset the No. 4 UCLA Bruins. Ironically, their easiest game was in the Elite Eight when they dispatched the Cinderella team of the tournament – St. Peters – by a whopping 20 points.

North Carolina and Duke have been ACC rivals for as long as anyone can remember and this year, they play very similar styles. Interestingly enough, neither of these teams won the ACC Tournament this year. Virginia Tech defeated Duke in the championship game back on March 12. That’s the last time Duke lost. UNC hasn’t suffered a defeat since also losing to Virginia Tech in the semi-finals of the ACC Tournament. North Carolina lost by 13 points and Duke lost by 15 points. Don’t forget that North Carolina (despite being an 11-point underdog) defeated Duke in early March. The seeding in this matchup is irrelevant. The Tar Heels are playing like a top-10 team in the nation right now.

Both of these programs can do a little bit of everything. Both teams are great in transition and can get up and down the court in an instant, yet they each also are some of the best halfcourt teams in all of college basketball. Duke has the coaching edge (Krzyzewski over Hubert Davis) and Duke has the more talented lineup with immense upside. When all of Duke’s offensive weapons are on point, they are nearly unstoppable, evidenced by their second-half performance in the Sweet Sixteen against Texas Tech when they converted 70.8% of their field goals. Duke's Paolo Banchero may be a top-five pick in this year’s NBA Draft. He will be the best player on the court during this matchup. Duke ranks as the most efficient offense in the country according to KenPom. There is no way to truly stop the Blue Devils. But North Carolina might be able to outscore them. Duke is also the worst defensive team of the teams still alive. We have seen UNC pull off plenty of upsets and we have already seen them defeat Duke earlier this month.

All that said, I believe that the Blue Devils have matured immensely throughout this tournament and while I’m iffy about the spread, I’m confident that they will defeat the Tar Heels and advance to the championship game.

The Pick: Duke ML (-196)
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Andrew Wiggins and Jayson Tatum

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In Game 5 of the NBA Finals, the Warriors defended the home floor to take a 3-2 lead in the finals over the Boston Celtics. Largely, this is because Boston was careless with the basketball. The Warriors tallied nine steals and forced 18 turnovers by the Celtics. In contrast, the Warriors only got the ball stolen twice and turned the ball over just six times Monday night. While Stephen Curry was guarded ferociously and was held to just 16 points on 7-of-22 shooting (and 0-9 from downtown), his teammates stepped up.

Andrew Wiggins had another huge double-double, scoring 26 points (12-23 FG) and hauling in 13 rebounds. Finally, if the Celtics hope to win in Game 6, they will need to stay awake in the fourth quarter. Over the last two games, Boston has fallen asleep at the end of the game while the Warriors managed to sneak away with two consecutive victories.

Let's take a look at some of tonight's best bets for this huge NBA Finals Game 6.

Please Note: All betting odds were correct today as of 2:00 pm EST from Caesars Sportsbook

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Best Bets of the Night

Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics -4 (GSW Leads 3-2)

NBA Finals Best Bet #1: Boston Celtics -4 (-110)

It’s difficult to envision the Boston Celtics collapsing in the fourth quarter in three consecutive games. The Celtics may briefly watch the tape from Game 5 but they are going to have to shake it off and move forward immediately. Boston’s carelessness with the basketball Monday night should produce a much-needed wake-up call that will allow the team to make smarter passes and take fewer risks on offense against a Golden State defense that has surged over the last two games.

While Steph will likely score more than 16 points in Game 6, Jaylen Brown must have a bounce-back performance after going 5-of-18 for 18 points in Game 5. Though the Celtics shot above 40% from the field on Monday night, they turned the ball over at an uncharacteristic rate, finishing the night with 18 turnovers. Some of those were unforced errors while the Warriors earned nine steals as well.

At home in Game 6, the Celtics will play better and bring this 2022 NBA Finals series to a blockbuster Game 7 at the Chase Center. For NBA fans wishing for a seven-game series in the 2022 Finals and bettors looking to cash in on Game 6, Boston will win by at least four points at home in a win-or-go-home scenario. Jayson Tatum has yet to play his best basketball this series with Andrew Wiggins playing lethal defense but tonight will be the night that he finally drops 30+ points. Although Steve Kerr seems to think his squad is ready to close out the series, he may have to think again given how well Boston has bounced back from losses this postseason.

Don’t forget that the Celtics were in a three-game to two-game deficit against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals yet found a way to come out victorious. They may not be able to win two straight against Golden State but it’s tough to imagine the Warriors defeating the Celtics in three consecutive matchups. Boston wins by a few possessions: 110-104.

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NBA Finals Best Bet #2: Over (O/U) 210 Total Points (-110)

Though only 204 points were scored between both teams in Game 5 (BOS 97 - 107 GSW), Game 6 will be a higher-scoring contest for multiple reasons. First, Jaylen Brown will have a bounce-back night. After being held to 18 points on 27.8% shooting from the field on Monday, Brown will almost certainly play more efficiently and score more in Game 6. Additionally, Boston had way fewer scoring opportunities due to their whopping 18 turnovers. Ima Udoke will make sure his starters take care of the ball in a game that can decide Boston’s fate. Marcus Smart and Al Horford have come up huge as role players but Tatum needs to really shift into an entirely new gear. Don’t be surprised if that happens tonight.

The story through Games 4 and 5 has been the same. Golden State has stepped it up on defense, managing to out-rebound the Celtics in both contests. Robert Williams III might have something to say about that tonight. In Game 6, the Celtics should be more cautious with the ball and therefore have more opportunities than they did over the last two contests. Meanwhile, the Warriors are always expected to drop at least 105+ points.

NBA Player Props

Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics -4 (GSW Leads 3-2)

Prop #1: Andrew Wiggins To Record a Double-Double (+225)

Throughout these NBA Finals, Andrew Wiggins has been on an absolute tear. Just over the last two contests where he finished both with double-doubles, he’s recorded 29 rebounds and 43 points. He has adapted his style of play and is spending more time down low in the post to help the Warriors out on the glass. Wiggins is putting significant pressure on Robert Williams III, Al Horford, and Jayson Tatum to rebounds the ball more efficiently. Not only is Wiggins keeping his scoring numbers up, he’s drastically improved on the defensive end to record 49 rebounds (9.8 rebounds per game in the Finals) through the first five games of this series. Wiggins’ shift to focus on rebounding and keeping the pressure down low has worked brilliantly for the Warriors over the last two games, both of which they won. In Game 6, expect him to continue to do what has been working, giving him a great chance to produce a third consecutive double-double in the NBA Finals. Perhaps he can even win the NBA Finals MVP Award if he continues to play at this level. Wiggins has been the true x-factor for the Dubs in this series.

Prop #2: Jaylen Brown Over 24.5 Points (-110)

After a rough shooting night in Game 5 where Brown only converted on five of his 18 shots from the field, he should wake up and score 25+ points in Game 6 at TD Garden. While you may want to stick away from three-point shooting props involving brown right now, he’ll hit the over in points tonight at the TD Garden. Brown has only scored over 24 points in one of five games this series (27 points in Game 3) but the Celtics do much better when Brown and Tatum perform like the perennial All-Stars that they are.

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Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

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In Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals, Stephen Curry and the Warriors executed exactly where they didn’t in Game 3 to tie up the series 2-2. Notably, Golden State dominated down low Friday night after being outrebounded and suffocated by the Celtics in Game 3. As a team, the Warriors recorded 16 offensive boards for a total of 55 rebounds for the night. For instance, Draymond Green struggled Wednesday night to finish the night with only four rebounds and three assists before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

In Game 4, Draymond dominated down low for eight rebounds, eight assists, and four steals without getting himself into foul trouble (only three PFs for Green in Game 4 after fouling out in Game 3).

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors - 4 (-110)

Similar to Game 3, both teams shot the ball rather evenly. The Warriors finished the night with 44% shooting from the field, and 34.9% from downtown. The Celtics converted 40% of the field goal attempts and 39.5% of their shots from deep. One factor which helped Golden State keep up with the Celtics throughout the game was terrific rebounding. Andrew Wiggins stepped it up off the glass to produce a 17-point and 16-rebound double-double. What really caused the Celtics to lose in Game 3 was a complete offensive collapse in the fourth quarter.

With seven minutes remaining in the game, the Celtics had a 91-86 lead over Golden State. That means Boston was outscored 21-6 in the second half of the fourth quarter to lose Game 4 107-97. With Golden State back home, expect their offense to shoot better than they did on the road and secure a home victory in Game 5.

Bet: Golden State Warriors -4 (-110)

Throughout the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors shot 49.4% from the field and 40.7% from downtown in 11 games played at home. For their nine road games, the Warriors were less efficient on average averaging 47.2 FG% (2.2% less efficient from the field) and 34.9% (-5.8% less efficient from 3PT range). The numbers reveal clearly that for the 2022 NBA Playoffs, the Warriors have been more efficient scoring. With the prospect of taking a 3-2 lead over the Celtics, its likely that Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have another big night in front of the home crowd.

Bet: Over (O/U) 212.5 Total Points (-110)

While only 204 points were scored in Game 4, expect Game 5 to be a much higher-scoring game. In addition to the Warriors shooting much better from the field, the team seems to have found some efficiency against the bigger Celtics down low. These two factors could push the Warriors to score 120+ points in Game 5. In turn, Jayson Tatum who scored 23 points (8-23 FG) will bounce back to have a 30+ point game. Both he and Steph are scoring big these NBA Finals.

While the defense was the main story of Games 3 and 4 at the TD Garden, scoring buckets will be the principal feature of Game 5 at the Chase Center. With him and Stephen Curry averaging more than 34 PPG through these finals, you can count on Game 5 in Golden State to be a high-scoring game.

NBA Player Props

Game: Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors - 4 (-110)

Prop: Jayson Tatum, Over 26.5 Points

Jayson Tatum, like the rest of the Celtics, started hot but finished ice cold. If it wasn’t for the fourth quarter where Tatum shot the ball multiple times unsuccessfully. This negatively impacted his shooting numbers from Game 4 where he finished the night with 23 points (8-23 FG) converting only 34.9% of his shots taken. After a disappointing Friday night, Tatum will shoot more efficiently in Game 5. Since he still scored 23 points on an off-night, you can count on Tatum to score 30+ points in Game 5 even if the Warriors defeat the Celtics.

Prop: Andrew Wiggins, Over 6.5 Rebounds

One of the major adjustments made by the Warriors in Game 4 was boosting their presence off the glass. Andrew Wiggins recorded 16 of Golden State’s 55 rebounds Friday night.

Through the first four games of the NBA Finals, Wiggins has recorded a total of 34 rebounds. That means Wiggins is averaging 8.5 rebounds per game in the 2022 NBA Finals. Especially because the Warriors know how effective he was producing much-needed rebounds in Game 4, Wiggins will look to have a similar presence down-low in Game 5.

Boston Celtics, NBA Finals Game 3

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In Game 3, both teams shot almost equally well from the field and from downtown. However, Boston took more shots from the field and dominated off the glass to take Game 3 116-100. Boston’s defensive energy was on full display Wednesday night as they outrebounded and drew countless fouls from the Warriors. Boston’s defense was the story of Game 3. Will Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry overwhelm the Celtics in Game 4?

Let’s take a look at some of tonight’s best bets for Game 4 of the 2022 NBA Finals.

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Best Bets of the Night

Game: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics Game 4 (BOS Leads 2-1)

In Game 3, both teams shot virtually as efficiently from the field. The Celtics converted 48.3% of their shots (43-89 FG) from the field and went 37.1% from downtown. Golden State finished the night with a 46.2 FG% (36-78 FG) as a team, converting 37.5% from beyond the arc. The main reason for the Celtics’ victory was fantastic defense. For instance, Robert Williams III who isn’t 100% healthy, played 26 minutes to produce 10 points, eight rebounds, and four blocks. The Celtics dominated the Warriors off the glass to record 47 rebounds as a team with 15 of them recorded on the offensive end. In contrast, the Warriors totaled 31 rebounds on the game and only had six offensive rebounds. In addition, the Warriors committed 23 personal fouls allowing the Celtics to go to the line 24 times (Celtics were 17-24 FT) and had 16 turnovers as a team. For the Warriors to bounce back in Game 4, they will need to be more aggressive down low and less sloppy on the floor.

Bet #1: Golden State Warriors, +4 (-110)

The Warriors shot the ball well in Game 3, but were simply overwhelmed by the Celtics defense and the energy at the TD Garden Wednesday night. Golden State recorded 39 combined turnovers (16) and personal fouls (23) which demonstrates how sloppy they were with the basketball. This gave Boston a possession advantage throughout the game, ultimately allowing the Celtics to take 11 more field goal attempts and finish the night with seven more made FGs than the Warriors. Offensive efficiency is not the issue for the Warriors. Rather, they will need to ramp it up on defense in Game 4 to make the game interesting. Draymond Green fouled out of the contest after being shut down all night. Green was held to just two points, four rebounds, three assists, and two turnovers in 35 minutes on the floor before getting a sixth personal foul in Game 3.

Bet #2: Over (O/U) 215 Total Points (-110)

Though the Warriors were held to 100 points of offense on Wednesday night, they shot the ball well. Golden State was limited as a team for FGAs as a result of Boston’s defense. In Game 4, Golden State will have an answer to put up more points on the board than they did in Game 3. In turn, the Celtics will keep things interesting. Expect this Game 4 to be a high-scoring contest. Both teams have been scoring big throughout these playoffs, and that doesn't seem to be changing right now during the Finals.

NBA Player Props

Game: Golden State Warriors at Boston Celtics Game 4 (BOS Leads 2-1)

Prop #1: Klay Thompson, Over 19.5 Points

Klay Thompson started the night shooting very well but cooled down towards the end. He went five for a whopping 13 attempts from downtown Wednesday night. He finished the night 7-of-17 from the field for 25 points. This comes after a terrible Game 2 performance where Klay went 4-of-19 from the field and only one-of-eight from beyond-the-arc. Tonight, Klay will shoot better tonight after an average Game 3 performance and bad Games 1 and 2.

Prop #2: Jaylen Brown, Over 2.5 Threes

Jaylen Brown has been knocking his shots from downtown as of late. In the last two games, he’s recorded at least three threes. He’s gone 7-of-17 (41.1%) from downtown through Games 2 and 3 combined. In the second of two home games at the TD Garden, it’s likely that Brown knocks down at least three buckets from beyond-the-arc tonight in Game 4.

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