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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Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

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In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Bam Adebayo's 31-point and 10-rebound double-double led the Miami Heat to a 109-103 victory over the Celtics on the road. That was followed by a dominant second-half performance by Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins who led the Warriors to a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

Tonight, we'll get the first of these two matchups. Boston will look to come back in their second home game against a Heat team that is clearly not at 100% healthy. Tyler Herro has been ruled out for Game 4 while Kyle Lowry remains questionable. Here are some of the best bets for tonight's and tomorrow's big Game 4s.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

ECF Game 4: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics -7 (MIA Leads 2-1)

In Game 4, the Celtics rallied back from double-digits to make things interesting in the fourth quarter. However, Boston conceded Game 3 to the Miami Heat 109-103. On Sunday, Bam Adebayo was getting everything he wanted down low. He finished with 31 points, 10 boards, six assists, four steals, and one block. Ime Udoka will need to boost the presence of his big men down low, perhaps by extending Daniel Theis’ minutes or having him share the floor more with Al Horford. The major reason for which the Heat are considered the seven-point underdogs for tonight’s game is injuries. Tyler Herro has already been ruled out for Game 4, and the Heat have four or five other players in their lineup currently listed as questionable. This includes Max Struss, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and P.J. Tucker. Butler is dealing with knee inflammation which sidelined him for the second half of Game 3.

Even if all of the players in the Heat’s rotation are good to go tonight (outside of Herro), Boston has not lost back-to-back home games since late October. Plus, Jaylen Brown is shooting much better than he did earlier in the postseason. In fact, he’s elevated his shooting to 50% from the field through the 2021-22 playoffs through 14 games played. Expect Boston to bounce back big in Game 4, with multiple players on the Miami Heat not at full strength.

The Pick: Boston Celtics -7 (-110)

WCF Game 4: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Well, it’s looking like the Golden State Warriors are returning to the NBA Finals. With the emergence of Jordan Poole late this season and into the postseason, Andrew Wiggins’ First-Team All-Star season, and Klay Thompson’s return to basketball, Golden State has been simply phenomenal. Golden State is simply that good this year, with anyone on the team capable of stepping up. Stephen Curry erupted in Game 3, while it was Andrew Wiggins that caught fire in the second half of Game 4. Any given night, the Warriors have one or two guys who they can count on for scoring approximately 25+ points. Considering the Mavericks' struggles this round, particularly behind the three-point line, bettors should go with the Warriors as the slight underdog. Teams get swept sometimes. Just ask the Brooklyn Nets. The Warriors will bring out the brooms and sweep the Mavericks as they punch their ticket to the NBA Finals Tuesday night.

The Pick: Golden State Warriors ML -104

NBA Player Props

Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Prop #1: Stephen Curry, Over 27.5 Points

Stephen Curry has scored 31 points and 32 points over the last two games. He’s done so by converting at least 50% from the field in each contest. It makes sense that he would score at least 28 points in a series-clinching victory tomorrow night. Curry is averaging 27.1 PPG on 45.9% this postseason but has certainly put up more points and done so more efficiently over the last few games.

Prop #2: Luka Doncic, Over 3.5 Threes

Luka has drained nine three-pointers over the last two games. He’s knocked down at least four threes in three of his last four contests. Facing elimination and hoping to not let down the home crowd in back-to-back home playoff games, Doncic will convert at least four baskets from downtown in Game 4.

Tyler Herro (Left), Bam Adebayo (Right), Miami Heat

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Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and the Miami Heat held their own against the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Likewise, Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 112-87 blowout over Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Tonight, the Celtics play their second game on the road against the Heat. On Friday night, the Mavericks will look to bounce back after shooting horrifically in Game 1.

Let’s take a look at the best bets for the two NBA Conference Final Game 2 matchups set for 8:30 PM EST. tonight and 9:00 PM EST. tomorrow night.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 4:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

After a nail-biting series with the Milwaukee Bucks that the Celtics won in grandiose fashion, Boston conceded Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. Tonight, they play Game 2 of the series at the FTX Arena and hope to bounce back from Tuesday’s 11-point loss. One of the principal reasons for their defeat in Game 1 was the absence of Marcus Smart (foot sprain) and Al Horford (health & safety protocols). It remained a relatively close game until the third quarter in which the Celtics were outscored 14-3 to begin the second half. Derrick White filled in for Marcus Smart and was terribly inefficient from the field. He scored three points (1-4 FG) and had four assists in 29 minutes filling in for the Defensive Player of the Year. In contrast, Max Struss and Gabe Vincent did a terrific job of filling in for Kyle Lowry, combining for 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting. In addition, Tyler Herro had a good night with a pivotal 18 points (7-15 FG) off the bench. Fortunately for the Celtics, both Smart and Horford are expected to return tonight.

Head Coach Ime Udoka indicated to reporters today that Smart was probable to play this evening. Horford was cleared of health and safety protocols today making him available for tonight’s contest. For those of you who have watched the Celtics this postseason, Horford and Smart have upped their play and have been absolutely integral to the team’s success. Tonight, let’s take the Boston Celtics to take a game on the road in the same fashion that they took two road games from the Bucks in the last series.

The Pick: Boston Celtics ML +108

Tonight's Best NBA Player Props

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

Prop#1: Gabe Vincent Over 9.5 Points
In Game 1 without Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent scored 17 points in 34 minutes on 50% shooting from the field. As Kyle Lowry is out again for Game 2 tonight, expect Vincent to score at least 10 points. Vincent has performed admirably while filling in for the veteran. Even when Lowry returns, it's quite possible that Erik Spoelstra will give some of Lowry's minutes to Vincent.
Prop#2: Al Horford Over 9.5 Points
After five straight double-digit scoring performances, Al Horford scored eight points or fewer in the last three games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bucks. He missed Game 1 of the Celtics' series against the Miami Heat after entering Health & Safety protocols. Since he was only out for one game, he shouldn't face any minute restrictions tonight. Horford should score at least 10 points in 30+ minutes on the floor.

Tomorrow Night's Best NBA Bet

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State -6 (GSW Leads 1-0)

Dallas was annihilated by Golden State in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. This comes after the Mavs blew out the Phoenix Suns on the road in impressive fashion, punching their ticket to the next round of the playoffs for a series against the Warriors. Golden State shot an impressive 56.1% from the field in the opening game and finished with 112 points. Just as important as the offensive production, Golden State clamped down on defense. The Warriors contained Luka Doncic, who converted just six of his 18 field goals on his way to 20 points. Andrew Wiggins did an excellent job guarding the young playmaker. Luka's teammates didn't help out much either as the Mavericks shot 36% from the field in Game 1, and 22.9% from downtown (11-48 3PT FG) for just 87 points on the night.

While I think the Warriors will win again on Friday night, expect the Mavericks to keep things more interesting after such an abysmal night shooting from the field. Dallas will make the adjustments needed to make this a competitive Game 2 in the Bay area.

The Pick: Dallas Mavericks +6 (-110)

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Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

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Klay Thompson is coming off one of his signature Game 6 performances. Thompson dropped his second-highest point total of the postseason, punching Golden State's ticket to the Western Conference Finals after defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in six games. In the elimination game, Thompson led the team with 30 points (11-22 from the field and 8-14 from beyond the arc), eight boards, two assists, and three blocks. Considering the multitude of injuries he has fought back from and the adversity he has faced, it's quite amazing that the five-time All-Star has converted at least 50% of his three-point shots in three of his last four outings. He seems to be in great form entering this pivotal series with the Mavericks.

Dallas stunned the top-seeded Phoenix Suns and reigning Western Conference champs on the road in Game 7, 123-90, and earned a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Let's see if Thompson can remain scorching hot as Stephen Curry and the Dubs host Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals tonight. Now, let's take a look at some of the best bets and player props to consider for tonight’s big matchup!

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Bet #1: Golden State Warriors -5 (-110)

Following a tough loss in Game 5 to the Grizzlies despite Ja Morant’s absence from the lineup, the Warriors bounced back and closed the series at home in Game 6. They take on the Dallas Mavericks, who’ve been absolutely unbelievable on defense. Changes made to the Mavs’ rotation by Jason Kidd worked flawlessly against Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and the Suns in the previous round. One surprise for Dallas this postseason has been former New York Knicks lottery pick, Frank Ntilikina. He's a player who has stepped up immensely this postseason, especially on defense. Throughout the series, Ntilikina held Chris Paul and Devin Booker to a combined 3-of-40 shooting from the field when he guarded them.

It will be interesting to see if Jason Kidd keeps his minutes up, or perhaps increases them after what was truly an astonishing defensive performance against the Suns. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, the Golden State Warriors have four efficient scorers who will need to be contained. The Warriors will cover the spread tonight and win by more than five points on their home floor.

Bet #2: Over 214.5 Total Points (-110)

Dallas scored an impressive 123 points in Game 7, and they did so on the road. I expect them to reach at least 110 points in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors shot on and off throughout their series against the Memphis Grizzlies. Nonetheless, they averaged 111 PPG in their series against Memphis (666 total points scored by the Warriors over six games). Both teams play a style of basketball that stresses ball movement to find an open man beyond the arc. When Dallas or Golden State shoot 40%-45% from the field, they can score in the hundreds because of the high volume of shots they take. Dallas started taking more shots and playing at a faster pace in the second half of their series against Phoenix. By the half in Game 7, Dallas was up 57-27. In the game, the Mavericks went 19-of-39 from downtown (48.9%). Even more impressive was Dallas’ 56.8% shooting from the field. Although the Warriors are one of the best defensive teams in the league, a 214.5-point Over / Under for tonight’s game is quite low. Smash the Over.

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NBA Player Props of the Night

Prop #1: Jordan Poole Over 1.5 Threes (-174)

Jordan Poole has finally cooled down after a stretch of three 20-point games against the Grizzlies. Over the last three contests, Poole has only hit two or more three-pointers in one contest. Over those last three games, he shot a combined 3-of-17 from downtown. While Poole has been highly inefficient over the last few games, he’ll hit at least two three-pointers in Game 1 tonight. The odds of this prop reflect how likely it is to happen. Although Poole isn't seeing as high a usage rate as when Curry and Thompson were injured during the regular season, Poole should still see plenty of open looks in the 25+ minutes he should log tonight. Given that Dallas will most likely try to stop Curry and Thompson from beating them, Poole should see a few wide-open looks. He will knock down at least two from deep range tonight.

Prop #2: Klay Thompson Over 20.5 Points (-112)

Klay Thompson has averaged just about 20.5 points since he came back this regular season. Throughout the postseason, he’s played strong and for the most part, been efficient from the field. Through 11 games in this postseason, Thompson is averaging 20.4 PPG on 45% shooting from the field. I like him to hit the over here in his first Western Conference Final matchup in three years. After getting his swagger back and dropping 30 points to eliminate the Grizzlies last round, Thompson should have all. the confidence in the world heading into Game 1 in the bay.

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