March Madness Final Four Best Bets: 2024 NCAA Tournament Expert Picks for Purdue vs NC State & UConn vs Alabama

Purdue center Zach Edey celebrates a play against Tennessee during the second half of the NCAA tournament Midwest Regional Elite 8 round at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit on Sunday, March 31, 2024. Edey's 40 points helped the Boilermakers to a 72-66 win and their first Final Four since 1980.
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Sam Avellone


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Long-time suffering Browns fan born and raised in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area who now resides in SEC country. University of South Carolina alum. Sports handicapper for close to 10 years with a primary focus on NCAAB while enjoying NFL, PGA, NCAAF, NBA, and Soccer. For Sam Avellone media enquiries, please email
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The stage is set for the 2024 Final Four in Glendale, Arizona. The action kicks off on Saturday evening just a little after 6:00 pm ET when Zach Edey and the Purdue Boilermakers try to end N.C. State’s Cinderella run. Shortly thereafter, Dan Hurley’s UConn Huskies and Nate Oats’ Alabama Crimson Tide take center stage in a game that is likely to feature a beautiful display of offense from both teams. 

This edition of the Final Four has one of the highest combined point spreads in the event’s history, which provides an interesting dynamic for Saturday’s games. Oddsmakers clearly see UConn and Purdue as the best 2 teams remaining, but Alabama and N.C. State won’t go out quietly.

With a few days to monitor the market, I identified 1 bet from each game that I like more than the rest. Let’s dive into the breakdown of those picks. 

March Madness Final Four Best Bets

Odds available at Caesars Sportsbook at the time of publishing

Purdue Boilermakers -8.5 (-110) vs N.C. State Wolfpack

There are a couple key factors in this matchup that will determine if the Wolfpack can continue this magical run. First, will N.C. State’s opponents hit their perimeter shots? Since the regular season ended, N.C. State’s opposition has connected fewer than 29% of its 3-point attempts despite a 3-point rate north of 41%. This was on display in the Wolfpack’s Sweet 16 win over Marquette, during which the Golden Eagles made just 4 of 31 3-point attempts — a vast majority of which were uncontested. The second key factor is DJ Burns’ effectiveness on both ends of the floor. He typically has a strength advantage against his opponents on offense. However, that won’t be the case when Zach Edey defends him; Edey has a size and strength advantage against anyone in the country. Burns could struggle to find consistent success against Purdue’s Trey Kaufman-Renn, too. While he is not built like Edey, TKR is a very strong defender in the paint who ranks in the 91st percentile in post-up defense (Synergy) and cleans up on the boards. His contributions defensively should help limit Burns and could put a lot of added pressure on DJ Horne to carry the burden offensively. 

On the defensive end, Burns won’t be able to stop Edey at the rim given the height disadvantage. Ben Middlebrooks and Mohamed Diarra are likely to help on Edey, but that could put Burns into a precarious situation defensively if Matt Painter decides to forgo TKR’s defense for Mason Gillis’ offense. Any time Gillis is on the floor as the stretch 4 opposite Burns, he is going to extend N.C. State’s defense — which puts Edey in an extremely advantageous position against single coverage on the block. To limit Edey’s attempts at the rim, N.C. State may sag its perimeter defenders to try to force the ball out of his hands. However, that is a dangerous game to play against an elite perimeter-shooting team like Purdue because the Boilermakers have 3 players that make more than 43% of their 3-point attempts. Purdue also has a significant advantage on the boards thanks to Edey, ranking as 1 of the top 15 teams nationally in offensive rebounding rate and offensive rebounding rate allowed per KenPom. N.C. State’s run is nothing short of impressive, but without confidence in an effective Burns performance I will lay the points with Purdue.

UConn Huskies vs Alabama Crimson Tide Over 160.5 (-110)

The Huskies do not play with extreme pace. However, they score in bunches with a unique array of off-ball movement that keeps defenders guessing, and excel in creating scoring opportunities through swift ball movement and player positioning. As such, UConn boasts the most efficient offense in the country per KenPom’s opponent-adjusted metric, as well as a postseason eFG% of 58.1% despite connecting on fewer than 33% of its perimeter attempts. This bodes well for the Huskies given Alabama’s defensive struggles. The Crimson Tide yield 0.93 PPP in their half court defense, which ranks in the 14th percentile according to Synergy. Perhaps, Alabama’s best defense is its offense. The Tide play at a lightning-fast pace with a strong perimeter shooting game, anchored by All-SEC First Team guard Mark Sears and his exceptional playmaking abilities. Sears is shooting the cover off the ball in the NCAA Tournament, stepping up with big shot after big shot when the Tide need him most. With him at the helm, Alabama is top 10 in adjusted tempo and average possession length in addition to adjusted offensive efficiency and eFG%. 

The stakes of the Final Four figure to amplify the intensity of this matchup from the opening tip. With a spot in the national title game on the line, both UConn and Alabama will leave it all on the court. The Tide are likely to push the pace when they can, and the Huskies will work inside-out through Donovan Clingan against Alabama’s poor defensive frontcourt that ranks in the 30th percentile in post-up defense. Each possession has the potential for fireworks, which is everything you want and more from a national semifinal. Let’s take the over and enjoy the beautiful display of offense from both teams. 

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