In men's Division I college basketball, the Final Four is the semi-final of the March Madness 68-team tournament. This is a tournament that features the top 16 teams from four separate regions of the nation, picked from the Power Five conferences (SEC, Big East, Big Ten, ACC, and Pac 12), as well as from outside of those conferences. The Power Five takes most precedence in NCAA men's football, via the FBS, but these conferences are also still considered the big-five in men's basketball. The difference, however, is that a lot more teams end up making the playoffs. Each of the four separate playoff sections have teams that are ranked 1-16, with the top seed playing the bottom seed, #2 vs. #15, #3 vs. #14, and so on. The idea is to have a round of play until a victor emerges from each section, which makes the four representatives of the Final Four.
The entire tournament is exciting and full of upsets and miraculous, instant-classic games, but it's the Final Four that brings the most coverage and exposure, and also what brings in the most gambling dollars from betters looking to win big bucks through legal basketball betting. March Madness betting lines are one of the most popular segments of the sports gambling industry, and is certainly one of the most anticipated events associated with legal NCAAB betting..
There's so much money bet on the Final Four that one might begin to think that the nation makes a special exception every March to allow legal betting. This isn't the case, however; and most of the betting that's done on the Final Four is actually done in designated legal betting zones, such as Las Vegas, and via offshore sportsbooks that are operated out of the UK and Australia and other non-US locations. To legally bet on the Final Four, you have two choices. Either physically travel to a state where betting on sports is legal, or become a member of an international site that isn't under US jurisdiction.
As touched on briefly above, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that US based betting on the Final Four is not legal in the United States, save four states that are exempt from PASPA and other federal regulations. Unfortunately, there are no exceptions made for such a sporting event like the Final Four, and if you want to bet legally on the games, you will have to find an offshore site with which to place your bets. This can be easily done, however, and you can find sites that offer a very broad range of betting options, including spreads, O/U, mini brackets, and prop and live-time bets. Just visit any of the sportsbooks recommended in this guide to be sure you are accessing a legally sanctioned destination that welcomes US residents.
It seems like there's a new front-runner in men's basketball every single year. While the Kentucky Wildcats lost literally only one game last year, in the Final Four to Wisconsin, they were never favored in a single poll to win it all this year. Just like most star basketball athletes in the NCAA, most NCAA teams are also one-and-done. So while Kentucky, Duke and Wisconsin were all heavy favorites in last year's tournament, we don't see any of those teams returning to favor this year. In fact, a couple of them might not even make the round of 64, which would be an unprecedented blow to these schools, particularly a Big Ten school if Wisconsin doesn't end up getting in. All that aside, this year's field is looking completely different than last year's, though you may recognize some of the conferences.
While not as statistically dominant as Kentucky was last year, this year's favorite in the east is also a Wildcats school. The Villanova Wildcats, to be exact, the top team in the Big East and the team likely to be the #1 seeded team in a bracket with the worst high-seeded teams. This means that for at least the first few rounds, Villanova's path should be a cake walk. Not trying to get ahead of ourselves and pencil anyone in for net-cutting yet, but we'd say Villanova is looking strong for the Final Four. Joining them, at least in terms of odds-on betting favorites, are the Tar Heels of North Carolina. The only team on this list that was also favored for last year's Final Four, North Carolina are kings of the ACC this year, and that conference is perennially one of the toughest in college basketball. It would be a lot more shocking for North Carolina to fall short of the Final Four, where they'd likely face off against Villanova, depending on the bracket Selection Sunday puts them in.
For the final two teams of the Final Four, the Kansas Jayhawks are considered the top team in the nation, and the Indiana Hoosiers are back to winning form. For Kansas, they're not the runaway favorites like Kentucky last year, but most agree that they've been playing the most consistent basketball of anyone this season. And for Indiana, they're a battle-tested team coming out of the Big Ten. We can't see anyone legitimately beating them. Sure, upset specials are a tradition in March Madness, but we expect Indiana to avoid them and make it to the Final Four. So, our Final Four is Villanova vs. North Carolina, and Kansas vs. Indiana. Look for a great NCAA National Championship game between the Wildcats and Hoosiers. Indiana is certainly looking like a team of destiny right now.
Official NCAAB Final Four Webpage