The four region champions have emerged from an original field of 68 teams and the pairings for this Saturday’s Final Four in New Orleans have been set. The first game on the slate pits the No.4-seed Louisville Cardinals, out of the West Region against their in-state rivals the Kentucky Wildcats, who were the No.1-seed out of the South. The second game has the Midwest Region’s No.2-seed Kansas Jayhawks squaring-off against the East Region’s No.2-seed, the Ohio State Buckeyes.
The following is a look at a few key facts and figures for each matchup to help handicap the games. All quoted lines are provided courtesy of BetOnline.
No.4 Louisville Cardinals (30-9) vs. No.1 Kentucky Wildcats (36-2)
Louisville finished the regular season in seventh-place in the Big East, but just like Connecticut did last season, it got hot at the right time with a four-game run through the conference tournament including a 50-44 victory over Cincinnati as a 3.5-point favorite to win the title.
The Cardinals’ four-game tear through the West Region of this tournament included a stunning 57-44 romp over No.1-seed Michigan State as 5.5-point underdogs and a 72-68 victory over No.7-seed Florida as one-point dogs. They are now 22-13-1 against the spread overall and 14-5 ATS on the road. Louisville is 8-0 ATS in its last eight games and the total has stayed ‘under’ in six of the eight games.
Kentucky has been opened as an 8.5-point favorite for this game with the total set at 138.5 points. It has not been the best team ATS this season with an overall record of 15-21-1 and a 10-9 ATS record on the road. It is 3-1 ATS in this tournament including a dominating 82-70 victory over No.3-seed Baylor as a 7.5-point favorite in the region finals. The total has gone ‘over’ in all four of its NCAA Tournament games.
The Wildcats are 6-2 both SU and ATS against the Cardinals in the last eight meetings including a 69-62 win earlier this season as 10-point home favorites. They have averaged 88 points a game in this tournament as compared to the 77.1 points a game they averaged in the regular season. Louisville, on the other hand, has been able to hold its opponents to just 56.3 points a game in its last eight outings as opposed to its season average of 60.8 points allowed.
No.2 Kansas Jayhawks (31-6) vs. No.2 Ohio State Buckeyes (31-7)
Kansas left little doubt it was the best team in the Midwest Region with a four-game run in which it outscored its opponents by a combined 34 points with the most impressive victory being a 80-67 win over No.1-seed North Carolina as a two-point favorite in the finals.
The Jayhawks are now 18-17-1 ATS overall and 10-9-1 ATS away from home. The total has stayed ‘under’ in 21 of 36 games overall and in 15 of 20 games on the road. Kansas is just 3-3 ATS in over its last six games in both Big 12 and NCAA Tournament play and the total has also gone 3-3.
Ohio State’s Sweet 16 odds to win the Midwest Region were 11/10 and its odds to win the national title before last week’s action were second only to Kentucky at 11/2. The Buckeyes have been opened as 2.5-point favorites in this matchup with the total line set at 136.5 points. They are 3-1 ATS in their four NCAA Tournament games and 20-13 ATS overall. The Buckeyes’ record ATS on the road this season is 10-8 with the total going ‘over’ in 13 of the 18 games. The total has gone ‘over’ in 10 of their last 11 games overall including all four games in this tournament.
These two teams met on Dec.10 this season with Kansas rolling to a 78-67 victory as a 1.5-point home favorite. The total went ‘over’ the 135.5-point line. The key point of difference between that game and this time around will be the addition of All-American forward Jared Sullinger to the Buckeyes’ lineup after he missed the first game between the two due to back spasms.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.