1-star: (812) Michigan -5.5 (-100) over Loyola-Chicago. 6:05pm ET.
Lean: (811/812) Loyola-Chicago/Michigan UNDER 130. 6:05pm ET.
Lean: (814) Villanova -5 over Kansas. 8:45pm ET.
Top 3 Props:
Lean: Michigan Moritz Wagner OVER 14 points (-110)
Lean: Kansas/Villanova Largest Lead in Game: UNDER 15.5 points (-110)
Lean: Kansas/Villanova Combined 3-point FG's Made: UNDER 20 (-110)
1-star: (812) Michigan -5.5 over Loyola-Chicago. 6:05pm ET. I think Loyola-Chicago is overrated due to a relatively easy path to the Final 4. First, they didn't face a No. 1 or No. 2 seed and also avoided Kentucky and Arizona. Then every team Loyola-Chicago faced had a injured starter (Brown Miami, Alexander Tennessee, Drew Nevada, Wade Kansas St). Finally, Loyola has only faced three Senior starters in 4 NCAA tournament games while Michigan starts two seniors and two juniors making the Wolverines by far the most experienced team Loyola has faced.
Loyola-Chicago is a also a terrible offensive rebounding team at No. 334 in the country in %. This hasn't been a key factor in their upset wins because they are hitting better than 50% from the field. I don't expect Loyola-Chicago to hit better than 50% vs Michigan's elite defense (No. 4). Plus, Michigan is in the Top 20 in defensive rebounding % in the country. Therefore, Loyola won't get too many second chance points. Michigan head coach John Beilein is a historically good post-season coach. He has a 22-12-1 ATS record in the NCAA Tournament and overall is 59-32-3 ATS in the post-season. In the last 2 years Michigan is 14-1 SU/10-3-2 ATS in post-season.
While Loyola has 14 straight wins (11-3 ATS) and is 21-1 SU/18-4 ATS since Custer came back from injury Michigan is 13-0 SU/10-2-1 ATS in their last 13 games. My only concern here is that Michigan is No. 321 in the country in free throw shooting (66%). If you had to get involved on the total, I would lean with UNDER 130. Loyola-Chicago has been a dead-nut UNDER team down the stretch with the UNDER going 8-1 in their last 9 games while Michigan is 3-1 to the UNDER in the tournament.
Lean: (814) Villanova -5 over Kansas. 8:45pm ET. I think Villanova is underrated off a historically poor shooting performance. In the Elite 8, they had their worst shooting performance in the last three years as the Wildcats shot only 33.3% and still beat Texas Tech (maybe 2nd best team in the Big 12) by double-digits! Villanova is one of the best 3-point shooting teams in college basketball history (7 made 3-point FG's away from single-season team record) and was only 4 of 24 from 3-point range vs Texas Tech. Villanova is incredibly balanced and has six players who hit better than 39% from 3-point range. According to the KenPom metrics, Villanova has the 2nd best offense in college basketball in the last 17 years.
The second reason I'm leaning with Villanova here is their improved defense down the stretch as they have held seven of their last nine opponents to 70 points or fewer and now rank No. 14 in the country. The improvements came when Phil Booth (one of their best defenders) came back from injury as he missed seven games. Keep in mind, the excluding the 2014 Connecticut offense, the last 17 National Champs have all had a Top 20 offense and a Top 20 defense and the only team left with those stats is Villanova. I am passing on the total.