March Madness Betting Guide: Final Four
numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, the spread, or the moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting for any given game. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.
For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110 spread wager, if we give a three-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300. Here are the best bets for today's games with guidance from our model.
Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information. You can also look at our oddsFire tool to get a feel for what the betting public is doing.
Over 135.0: 4 Stars out of 5
Houston +5.0: 2 Stars out of 5
The first Final Four matchup features two of the best teams in the nation, according to our nERD metric, as fourth-ranked Houston (18.95 nERD) squares off with second-ranked Baylor (19.89 nERD). Their nERD rating is the number by which we'd expect them to win against an average opponent on a neutral court.
Both teams have had fantastic seasons, as Baylor is currently 26-2, while Houston is 28-3. The winner will deservedly qualify for the Championship.
Our model projects a close game with Baylor eeking out win by a final score of 72.87-71.64.This would be almost four full points closer than the 5.0-point spread, so there is certainly a betting opportunity on Houston to cover. Our algorithm projects a 61.16% likelihood of Houston covering the 5.0-point spread, making it a two-star bet for Saturday.
There is also value on the over/under. We project a total of 144.51 points, which would put us 9.51 points ahead of the installed game total. Our model is very confident that this game will go over 135.0 total points. We give the over a 67.88% to hit and make it a four-star bet.
UCLA +14.0: 5 Stars out of 5
Gonzaga has been completely steamrolling everyone en route to the Final Four. They notched a 33-point win over Norfolk State and followed that with double-digit wins over Oklahoma, Creighton and USC. However, a red-hot UCLA should be their toughest test yet in this tournament, according to our rankings, as we rank UCLA as the 13th best team in the nation with a 14.29 nERD.
The Bruins have navigated through a difficult path in the Big Dance, specifically in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight. UCLA defeated eighth-ranked Alabama (16.80 nERD) and third-ranked Michigan (19.13) in their last two games, so they have absolutely earned their place in this semifinal matchup.
We have Gonzaga as the clear top team in college basketball, but our model projects a competitive game here, forecasting a Gonzaga victory by a final score of 75.34-69.99. There is a huge discrepancy between our projection of 5.35 points in favor of Gonzaga compared to the 14.0-point betting line. Overall, we give a 73.45% likelihood for UCLA to cover the spread, making this a convincing five-star betting opportunity.