Of the four schools in this year's NCAA basketball Final Four, the two biggest fan bases at Reliant Stadium on Saturday night (in my purely unscientific opinion) appeared to be Virginia Commonwealth's (the biggest of the four schools in the Final Four by enrollment, over 34,000) and Kentucky's (27,000 enrollment and what felt like about 27 million fans at Reliant).
Well, both of those schools were losers on Saturday. This means there will be a bunch of you ticket predators at the game tonight, a bunch of you who waited for Kentucky and VCU fans to leave the stadium on Saturday night trying to catch them in a moment of weakness that would see them cave to selling you their Monday tickets for 30 cents on the dollar.
If you were successful in procuring tickets and have no rooting interest, well this post is for you, because as I've said many times, the road to interest in sports is oftentimes paved in degenerate gambling!
So to heighten your interest in tonight's game, let's roll with these six prop bets and see where it goes, shall we?
Largest Lead Will of the Game -- UNDER 12.5 (-130): If you're looking for tournament games involving these teams that this final could most closely resemble, look at Butler's game against Big East team Pitt in the round of 32 (71-70 Butler win on the Pitt over-the-back foul brain fart with under a second to go in regulation) and Connecticut's grind-it-out, methodical win against Kentucky 56-55 on Saturday. Largest lead in each of these games was below 12.5, and more importantly, if you can weather one team running away and hiding in the first half, chances are you should get home easily on this one.
Team to Reach 20 Points First -- BUTLER (+105): In their last two games against Arizona and Kentucky, Connecticut came out very slowly preventing second shots. Arizona had eight offensive rebounds before the second television timeout, and Kentucky also hung in the game early because, despite abysmal shooting, they got second and third opportunities galore. Also, if one team is going to come out a bit slow because of the magnitude of the stage, it'll be Connecticut. Butler was just in this spot one year ago.
Team to Make First 3 Point Shot -- UCONN (+120): Homeostasis play. Connecticut's 1-for-12 performance against Kentucky should result in a bounceback tonight against Butler. Only caveat is UConn's starting lineup usually has freshman Tyler Olander playing a seemingly requisite five minutes, which basically put UConn in a four on five situation early in games.
Player point total over/unders
Kemba Walker UNDER 23.5 (-130): Brad Stevens is really good at taking whatever it is the other team does well, and dialing up a defense to combat it. I think Stevens will go out of his way to try and prevent Kemba Walker for going off for 30 points. If Walker gets 30, UConn probably wins. I think he will be partially successful, Walker will go under 23.5, but....
Jeremy Lamb OVER 13.5 (-130): ...this will be the game that the handful of college basketball fans who don't know about Lamb find out. He was pretty quiet, but efficient against Kentucky (5 for 8 from the field). I think tonight, he will be much more involved in the offense. A concern in terms of UConn winning would be Lamb forcing shots, which actually for the sake of this bet wouldn't be such a bad thing.
Matt Howard OVER 15.5 (-115): This number just feels low. Really, what you're betting on with this number is whether or not Howard gets into foul trouble. If he does, the over will be a struggle. If he doesn't he should get there, and if Butler is nursing a lead at the end of the game, he should pick up four to six easy points on fouls alone. I think in his final collegiate game, Howard will stick around and have a nice effort.
GAME PREDICTION: Butler comes up short again, by the same score as last year's game against Duke. UCONN 61, Butler 59.
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