Higher Seeds – 46-14 SU and 26-30-4 ATS
Favorites – 46-15 SU and 27-30-4 ATS
Favorites of 3 or less – 14-8 SU and 8-9-4 ATS
Favorites of 10 or more -20-1 SU and 11-10 ATS
Totals – 39-24-1 OVER
Totals of 130 or less 2-1 OVER
Totals of 150 or higher 11-9 OVER
Based on these numbers, this looks like an average year for the sportsbooks with balanced action, but they cleaned up the first weekend and have held their own since.
For the most part the tournament has gone as expected with a mix of higher seeds and South Carolina in the Final 4. The Gamecocks being here is a complete surprise. When other lower seeds of recent vintage have made it this far, one could make the case in retrospect they were under-seeded and were playing well and peaking coming into this tournament. There was nothing to suggest South Carolina could pull off anything close to this having finished the regular season 3-6 and 1-8 ATS.
While Frank Martin’s team deserves a lot of credit for playing defense, it has been the offense which has carried the Gamecocks. Just once in four games have they hold opposing team below defensive scoring average and shooting percentage (Baylor on both), but here is team that averages 73.2 PPG, and they have AVERAGED 48 PPG in the SECOND HALF in this tournament. With all this scoring, they have crushed the opposition by 16 PPG in the final 20 minutes.
Though Florida was stifled by South Carolina’s defense in the second half, they were among many teams that relied on do-or-die three-ball and did not run offensive plays to score.
After missing 10 straight 3′s in the second half, you would have thought Gators coach Mike White would have run two or three of the team’s favorite plays to get a good shot. At this juncture, I don’t consider a high pick-and-roll at the top of the key with players spread wide and standing and watching a real play option. I’m talking about players running off back screens or a screen off the low blocks with players coming to meet the ball at the free throw line or any number of plays teams could run.
Florida was not the only team guilty of this, West Virginia comes to mind in loss to Gonzaga, as were at least a half dozen more. I get offensive efficiency and points per possession, but at various points of games, you need to run a play that scores two points or provides two free throws at least 60 percent of the time when called upon. Every team needs those plays to win games.
The high screen and roll is also so poorly executed these days, with the dribbler not rubbing off the screen and the screener not setting a solid screen. I completely understand when the opposing defender hedges out on the screen, but every coach should teach the ball-handler how to pass over the top or use bounce pass when screener rolls to basket off a hedge, with taller player having smaller player on his outside hip.
The reason North Carolina came from behind against both Arkansas and Kentucky was running set plays and executing, which is a credit to Roy Williams and his players.
Let me know what else you have noticed.