The NCAA tournament and the first showing of the first four
made the 2011 bracket the biggest yet. The tourney was full of surprises with
VCU going further than most thought and many favorites dropping out early.
Unfortunately, one of the best NCAA Tournaments ever
finished with a bit of a thud when third-seeded Connecticut beat No. 8 seed
Butler on Monday night in Houston 53-41 in one of the ugliest national
championship games in recent memory. The Bulldogs, who lost in the national
championship game for the second year in a row, were a ridiculous 12-for-64
shooting from the field. That's 18.8 percent, the worst ever in a title game.
Butler had all of three – three! – two-point baskets. The previous record low
was nine. The score at halftime was just 22-19.
It was the end of a stunning run for Connecticut, which won
the Big East Tournament with an unprecedented five victories in five days after
finishing ninth in the conference in the regular season. And at age 68,
Connecticut coach Jim Calhoun became the oldest coach to win the NCAA championship.
He won his third title since 1999, and joined John Wooden, Adolph Rupp, Mike
Krzyzewski and Bob Knight as only the fifth coach to win at least three
national titles. The Huskies weren’t even ranked when the season began. They
became just the third team since 1975 to win the national title a year after
not making the NCAA Tournament.
The championship game result was a pretty good one for the book. UConn went off as a 3-point favorite, but Butler took more than 55
percent of the action on the spread and a little more than 51 percent on the
moneyline (Bulldogs were +140). Needless to say the game went under the total
of 132 and bettors had slightly leaned to the over. The bettors’ top win on
player props for the title game was on Butler center Andrew Smith staying under
eight points. The book’s top win on player props was Butler’s Shelvin Mack
staying under 17.5 points. He was just 4-for-15 from the field for 13 points
after averaging 21.8 points in the tournament’s previous five games.
Kemba Walker was named the Final Four Most Outstanding
Player but the book wasn’t overly exposed on him as he was the 2/1 co-favorite
with Kentucky’s Brandon Knight following the Elite Eight. Walker did take by
far the most action on the prop after the Elite Eight, however.
The two Final Four games on Saturday took very two-sided
action. Butler went off as a 3-point favorite over 11th-seeded
Virginia Commonwealth and took 51.6 percent of the action on the spread. The
moneyline was a bigger win for players as the Bulldogs took nearly 59 percent
of the action at -170. Ironically the total was a push with it closing at 132
and the final being 70-62. We were slightly exposed on the under.
Kentucky was the overall favorite following the Elite Eight
and the Wildcats went off as 2-point favorites over UConn on Saturday. But NCAA basketball betting on the spread on that game was nearly 50-50 so UConn’s 56-55 win was
basically a wash. The book did take a nice win on the total staying under 139,
however, as nearly 59 percent of the action was on the over. Players did cash
in on Knight going over two three-point field goals.