The stage is set for this year's NCAA Tournament Final Four. Lets prepare for our NCAA Basketball picks by taking an early look at each matchup and discuss favorable betting trends that could aid in the capping of each game.

The Final Four have been determined, and very few bracket fillers had named Louisville as a Final Four Candidate. The biggest matchup does feature a State of Kentucky rivalry between Louisville and Kentucky, and many fans who reside in Kentucky are already stating that this is the game of the century and far more important than even winning the NCAA Tournament. That is just one example of the passion that will be involved in this matchup.

Coaching Greats go Head-to-Head

Rick PitinoLouisville head coach Pitino was the only coach to take three different teams (Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville) to the Final Four until Kentucky head coach Calipari did it last year (Massachusetts, Memphis, and Kentucky). There has never been one coach to win the Men’s Basketball Championship with two different teams. However, this will mark Pitino’s second chance to accomplish this feat having won the Championship with Kentucky 1995-96.

Defense Wins Championship

For fans of defensive basketball, this year's Final Four is a dream matchup. In the ‘Battle for Kentucky’, Louisville ranks 26th in the nation in scoring defense allowing 60.8 points per game and Kentucky ranks 22nd in the nation allowing 60.6 points per game. Based on Opponent Shooting Efficiency, Louisville ranks third in the nation, at 0.935 ratio, and Kentucky ranks best posting a 0.915 ratio. Based on opponent shooting percentage, Kentucky ranks best in the nation, allowing opponents to connect on 37.5% of their shot attempts and Louisville ranks third best in the nation, allowing opponents to connect on 38% of their shot attempts.

In the Kansas versus Ohio State matchup defense may be the key to the victor. Kansas ranks 35th in the nation allowing 61.6 points per game and Ohio State ranks 16th allowing 59.7 points per game. Based on opponent shooting efficiency, Kansas ranks seventh in the nation posting a 0.949 ratio and Ohio State 35th posting a 0.991 ratio. Ohio State falls short of Kansas in this statistical category simply because the Big Ten plays a slower and more grinding half-court style of game. 

Ohio State ranks 41st in the nation, allowing opponents to connect on 40.6% of their shot attempts, while Kansas ranks fourth in the nation, allowing opponents to connect on 38.0% of their shot attempts. 

At the end of the day, though the NCAA Basketball lines may be overestimating the defensive nature inherent in these matchups. In other words, I fully believe that the public will place their sports picks on the ‘under’ in these games, which may open up solid NCAA Basketball betting opportunities for the ‘over’. Join me in the NCAA Basketball with John Ryan thread every day and find out what the best NCAA Basketball picks will be for this Final Four matchup. 

Some Trends and Systems

These are not recommendations or even leans for any play. They are simply game situations and systems that support the given team and may offer some handicapping help for your own work. 

Supporting Kentucky is a solid system that has gone 32-12 for 73% winners since 1997. Play against a dog after successfully covering the spread in six or more consecutive games, and playing with five or six days rest. Louisville is a perfect 6-0 ATS in road games versus good rebounding teams outrebounding opponents by  or more per game this season. 

Kansas is a solid 14-7 ATS when facing solid defensive teams sporting a shooting percentage defense of 42% or less this season. Ohio State is a robust 18-7 ATS in road games revenging a same season loss versus opponent since 1997. Kansas is 12-1 ATS after allowing 45 points or more in the first half last game since 1997.