College Sports

Final Four odds: 5 things – quirky, weird, even essential – to know about the NCAAs

Even for people who don't gamble, a look at betting odds for major sports events still offers insight and entertainment.

The Final Four, college basketball's championship weekend, always creates a few quirky bets.

Of course, everyone wants to know the favorites and long shots. This helps build that tension that makes sporting events compelling. If you're at a Final Four party or sports bar on game night but don't normally pull for Villanova, Michigan, Loyola-Chicago or Kansas, it's natural to adopt the underdog.

Here are a few interesting bets found in a casual cruise on the web.

1. "Sister Jean" is habit-forming.

If you didn't know already, the Loyola-Chicago chaplain is the runaway breakout star of the tournament. Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt is 98, and probably knows more about basketball than the loudest know-it-all you'll hear far too many times at your local sports bar on Saturday night. has three prop bets just for Sister Jean for the Loyola - Michigan semifinal. This includes not only how many times you'll hear about or see Sister Jean, but also the bobblehead made in her likeness.

That bobblehead — 10,000 were sold within 48 hour of its release, according to an email from Phil Sklar, the co-founder and CEO of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum — is wildly popular.

That's probably a good indicator of which way to go here. An "over" on any of these seems to be a no-brainer, especially if the game is a dud.

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2. The NCAA wishes these didn't exist. also has prop bets for how many times you'll hear the words "“NCAA violations,” “NCAA investigation” and "scandal."

Sadly, there's never a shortage of these to go around.

These or "Sister Jean" could make for a great drinking game.

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3. Bet on experience on the court.

For the third year in a row, the NCAA champion will feature experience over freshman talent.'s John Clay broke down the Final Four teams and found that among the top six scorers at each school, there were seven seniors, nine juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen. Only one team, Villanova, has a freshman among its top four scorers, and the Wildcats' Omari Spellman redshirted last season.

Experienced players also led North Carolina and Villanova to championships in 2017 and 2016, respectively.

Still, you can bet on freshman from the Final Four teams declaring for the 2018 NBA draft, of course.

4. A little research would be smart.

Kyle Boone at has picked a few top prop bets for each of Saturday's semifinals. Look for a lot of 3-pointers in the Michigan - Loyola game, for instance. is among the sites that are tracking how the odds have shifted this week. Odds shift in response to how the public is betting. Oddsmakers want equal action on both sides of a wager to ensure they make money no matter what. If more people are betting on one side, they shift the odds so that bets on the other side pay more. (They don't change odds on bets already made, of course.)

This is a good way to get an idea about what other people are thinking about the games.

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5. The odds that everyone wants to know

As of early Friday morning, Michigan is a 5.5-point favorite over Loyola-Chicago and Villanova is a 5-point favorite over Kansas. That hasn't changed much this week.

Villanova is the pick of most sites to win it all, and Loyola-Chicago faces the steepest odds. Michigan gets the nod over Kansas for the No. 2 spot, probably because they face the long-shot Ramblers, just the fourth-ever No. 11 seed in the Final Four, in their semifinal.


At The Alamodome, San Antonio

National Semifinals


Loyola of Chicago (32-5) vs. Michigan (32-7), 6:09 p.m., TBS

Villanova (34-4) vs. Kansas (31-7), 8:49 p.m., TBS

National Championship


Semifinal winners, 9:20 p.m., TBS