4 Final Four Stats To Consider Before Duke – UNC, Kansas – Nova

Written By Eli Hershkovich on April 2, 2022
Final Four Teams

There are just two game days left in the college basketball season. Let’s dive in while we still can and dissect some key metrics when handicapping the Final Four teams. This information can assist with player props too.

Click on the odds below to place a bet, and continue the discussion in our Discord betting chat, where bettors share their favorite plays for the Final Four teams. You can reference my pre-NCAA tournament power rankings as well.

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1. Duke Blue Devils: Transition Offense

Final Four

Let’s start with the marquee matchup. It’s the first time these programs will go head-to-head in the NCAA tournament during their 103-year rivalry.

Duke showcases the top-rated scoring punch left, and it’ll be most productive on the run — given UNC’s half-court defensive turnaround. Per ShotQuality, the Blue Devils own the 29th-most efficient transition unit in Division I, and they’ve dictated the tempo in each of their four NCAA tournament games.

Paolo Banchero & Co. exposed the Tar Heels’ fast-break defense in the first meeting, manufacturing 1.26 points per possession. Four-star forward AJ Griffin was a major reason why, and he’s churning out a 40.0% 3-point clip in March Madness. Jeremy Roach’s improved decision-making doesn’t hurt, either.

Granted, UNC was a much less reliable group at that point of the campaign. But if those two factors come to fruition again, we’ll likely see North Carolina’s offense develop some impatience.

2. North Carolina Tar Heels: Off-Ball Action

Final Four Teams

Many are focusing on how Armando Bacot, the East Region’s Most Outstanding Player (MOP), sizes up versus Mark Williams. That will be assessed in a future breakdown. For now, let’s digest UNC’s off-ball offense, which operates at the 20th-most efficient rate (via ShotQuality).

Entering the big dance, the Blue Devils’ ball-screen defense was a major liability. Virginia Tech hunted it ad nauseam in the ACC tournament title game, shooting 10-of-22 from deep in the process.

Mike Krzyzewski and his coaching staff have employed a matchup zone defense in their last two wins. It’s shined — with neither Texas Tech nor Arkansas presenting a reliable perimeter offense. However, the Tar Heels boast the 51st-ranked 3-point clip in the country (36.1%).

While Hubert Davis’ system doesn’t revolve around off-ball sets, they were hyper-effective and helped lead to a 39.1% clip on 3s in UNC’s win at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 5. Their first affair isn’t very applicable despite shooting 40.9% from distance, as it was forced into long-range shots while facing a double-digit deficit throughout.

You have to wonder if the Caesars Superdome’s shooting backdrop will affect either team, though.

3. Kansas Jayhawks: Exposing Villanova Minus Moore

Final Four

Before Remy Martin increased his workload after returning from a knee injury, opposing defenses sagged off on fellow point guards Dajaun Harris and Joseph Yesufu. Not only has the the Midwest Region MOP injected life into Kansas’ floor-spacing, but his role also becomes more valuable against Villanova’s short-handed rotation.

With two-guard Justin Moore suffering a torn Achilles tendon, the Wildcats’ defensive prowess for switching everything takes a hit. In turn, Collin Gillespie, who Synergy grades as Villanova’s worst defender in both isolation and ball-screen sets, could be more readily exposed by Martin’s quick-twitch playmaking.

Moore “is maybe worth a point (against the spread),” Matt Lindeman, WynnBET Sportsbook’s senior lead trader, said. “We were late to open Kansas -4 (-105). You could see it touching -5 when you couple the Moore injury with Kansas’ second-half performance against Miami.”

4. Villanova Wildcats: Possession Length

Final Four

Jay Wright’s squad utilizes the 14th-slowest adjusted tempo across the sport (via KenPom), taking part in 120 total possessions amid its Elite Eight win over Houston.

Considering a dynamic scorer in Moore will be on the bench, Villanova can’t afford to play at Kansas’ preferred, uptempo pace. Providence accomplished that feat in the second half of its Sweet 16 matchup with the Jayhawks and covered as a result. Nevertheless, this number is already shorter than a three-possession spread.

Eli Hershkovich Avatar
Written by
Eli Hershkovich

Eli Hershkovich is a lead sports betting writer with TheLines and Catena Media, formerly with Audacy and The Action Network. His goal is to provide you with data and information to lead you to winning bets. Eli is an avid college basketball gambler — among many other sports — and still hasn't forgiven Virginia for ruining his 2018-2019 Texas Tech futures.

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