Final Four Odds: Villanova, North Carolina Betting Favorites


The Villanova Wildcats can advance to their first national championship game since 1985 with a win when they take on the Oklahoma Sooners on Saturday as 2-point betting favorites in the Final Four at sportsbooks monitored by

No. 2 Villanova shattered many remaining brackets last weekend with a strong 64-59 victory over No. 1 Kansas in their Elite Eight matchup, disposing of the national championship favorites as 2-point underdogs and lifting their March Madness futures to 13/5 ahead of Saturday night’s Sooners vs. Wildcats betting matchup at NRG Stadium.

The Wildcats have gone 7-1 both straight up and against the spread in their last eight games when favored by fewer than 2.5 points, while covering in six of seven following an outright victory as underdogs.

No. 2 Oklahoma also knocked off a top seed en route to their first Final Four berth since 2002, laying an 80-68 beating on the Oregon Ducks to claim the West Region Final as 1-point underdogs, posting back-to-back ATS wins for just the second time since late January.

The Sooners have been dismal performers at the sportsbooks since early in the campaign, covering in just four of their past 15 outings, dropping their overall ATS record to a feeble 14-20 on the season, but are an impressive 9-1 SU in games contested at neutral sites.

Saturday also marks the second meeting of the season between these two squads, with the Sooners claiming a decisive 78-55 win as 5-point underdogs at December’s Pearl Harbor Invitational in Honolulu, ending the Wildcats’ two-game head-to-head SU and ATS win streak.

Also on Saturday, a pair of ACC rivals face off in a bid for a national championship berth with the North Carolina Tar Heels taking on the Syracuse Orange as 9-point betting favorites.

Syracuse became the first No. 10 seed in March Madness history to advance to the Final Four after overcoming a 16-point, second-half deficit to topple No. 1 Virginia in the Midwest Region Final, covering as eight-point underdogs in their fifth straight ATS win.

However, the Orange will need more of the same defense that has held opponents to just 55.75 points per game at this year’s tournament if they are to end a three-game SU losing streak against No. 1 North Carolina, who have dominated in four lopsided NCAA Tournament victories, while averaging over 89 points per game.

NIL and NCAA: What to know about the new policy and how NBC Sports can help

NCAA College World Series
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As of July 1, 2021, a new NCAA policy has been in effect allowing student-athletes from all three divisions to monetize their name, image, and likeness (often referred to as NIL). As long as the activities are “consistent with the law of the state where the school is located,” athletes now have the opportunity to accept endorsements from brands, monetize their social media presences, and work with professional firms to coordinate deals.

Click here for additional information and guidelines regarding NCAA NIL policies and keep reading to find answers to questions such as how NIL works as well as how NBC Sports can help.

What is NIL and NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct is coming to a school near you. The program enables college student-athletes to earn money from their name, image, and likeness (NIL) through a unique marketplace that connects athletes with advertisers. NBC Sports Athlete Direct will work to provide equal opportunities to all student-athletes, regardless of which team you play on or any statistical performance.

How will the NIL Marketplace work?

Advertisers will use NBC Sports Athlete Direct to make NIL offers available to college student-athletes. College student-athletes will then have the option to participate in the NIL offer. Those who decide to participate and complete the advertiser’s campaign requirements will be compensated based on a predetermined rate.

How much money can athletes make participating in NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Compensation will vary by advertiser campaign.

When will NBC Sports Athlete Direct launch and how can I sign up?

NBC Sports Athlete Direct will officially launch in the Fall of 2022 but prior to that, we will be launching a pilot program soon, exclusively for Temple and Vanderbilt student-athletes.

In the meantime, click here to fill out a student-athlete interest form and once it is available at your school, we will notify you and provide you with additional information on how to sign up.

If I participate in NIL offers from NBC Sports Athlete Direct, do I still have the freedom to do other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct?

Yes, this program is non-exclusive so our student-athletes will have the freedom to participate in other NIL deals that are not related to NBC Sports Athlete Direct.

What are the rules or restrictions for participating in this program?

Unfortunately, international students and students under the age of 18 are not eligible to participate in the pilot program at this time.

Kentucky to allow college athletes to earn off likeness

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FRANKFORT, Ky. — Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order Thursday allowing the state’s college athletes – including players on the nationally renowned Kentucky and Louisville men’s basketball teams – to make money through the use of their name, image or likeness.

The Democratic governor said he took the action as a matter of fairness for college athletes. It will spare Kentucky’s colleges from being at a competitive disadvantage with rivals in other states that will have laws enabling athletes to profit off their name, image or likeness, he said.

“This is important to our student-athletes, who for decades, others – whether it’s companies or institutions – have profited on,” Beshear told reporters. “These athletes deserve to be a part of that.”

Beshear said his executive order takes effect July 1, when similar legislation passed in several other states will become law. His office said he was the first governor to make the change by executive order.

The governor’s action won praise from the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. UK plays in the Southeastern Conference and UofL competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

“Bringing the state of Kentucky into competitive balance with other states across the country and, more specifically, the Atlantic Coast Conference is critical,” Vince Tyra, U of L’s vice president for intercollegiate athletics, said in a release issued by the governor’s office.

UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart said the governor’s action “provides us the flexibility we need at this time to further develop policies around name, image and likeness.”

“We are appreciative of that support, as it is a bridge until such time as state and/or federal laws are enacted,” Barnhart said in the same release from Beshear’s office. “The landscape of college sports is now in the midst of dramatic and historic change – perhaps the biggest set of shifts and changes since scholarships were first awarded decades ago.”

In Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico and Texas, laws go into effect July 1 that make it impermissible for the NCAA and members schools to prevent athletes from being paid by third parties for things like sponsorship deals, online endorsements and personal appearances.

The NCAA had hoped for a national law from Congress that has not come, and its own rule-making has been bogged down for months. College sports leaders are instead moving toward the type of patchwork regulation they have been warning against for months.