During the lead up to the Final Four on Saturday, fans and pundits will talk a lot about Tom Izzo, Mike Krzyzewski, Bo Ryan, and John Calipari. Everywhere you turn there will be analysis about Kentucky trying to go 40-0 and, if they achieve it, how they rank historically.
There will also be stories about the self-inflicted PR disaster that is Indiana governor Mike Pence signing into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that allows businesses to discriminate against same-sex couples.
While all of those things are interesting, for bettors, there should be some discussion about Lucas Oil Field.
It is really easy to look at teams, their numbers, tactics, and match them up. Who has an advantage in shooting, or rebounding, or on defense? However, a gold mine was available for bettors this past weekend that watched the regional games from Houston.
Within the first few minutes of Gonzaga’s win over UCLA, I remembered – and saw ample evidence of the fact that – teams have trouble shooting in NRG Stadium. Game one went under by eight points; then Duke and Utah stayed under by 13; on Sunday, the under was a 27 point winner in the Blue Devils’ win over the Zags. During the 2011 Final Four in the same building, the totals were 111 and 132 in the semis, and UConn beat Butler in the title game 53-41.
So what should we expect in Indianapolis? Last year, during Midwest Regional games at Lucas Oil Stadium, totals were 143, 144, and 147. However, the attendance was in the neighborhood of 35,000.
For the Final Four, twice that many people will be present. In 2010, the facility hosted the main event with relatively low scoring games. Butler beat Michigan State 52-50 and Duke got by West Virginia 78-57 in semifinals. In the title game, the Blue Devils edged Butler 61-59.
Lucas Oil held Regionals in 2009 and 2013, aging in front of roughly 35,000 fans. The six totals were 116, 129, 132, 148, 146, and 167. On paper, this seems to indicate the court plays fair, at least for smaller crowds in regional play.
The over/under for Wisconsin and Kentucky is 131, while Michigan State and Duke is around 139. Analyze the teams and see if you come up with a disparity. Use your knowledge of the building to help you make plays. Most importantly, while you watch game one, consider whether you can make a heady in-game wager, or certainly use knowledge from the first contest when you bet game two and Monday night’s championship tilt.
(Photo credit: Manningmbd (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped.)