Wisconsin upset Arizona in the West Regional final last March, winning outright as a small underdog. The Badgers are short underdogs again for the rematch with the 'Cats in this year's West Regional final Saturday evening in Los Angeles.
Most of the NCAA Tournament odds opened this game with Arizona favored by a point or a point and a half, with a total of 133.5; both those figures were holding steady in the early betting.
Wildcats-Badgers: Hello Again
Pac-12 champion Arizona reached Saturday's regional final by coming from behind to beat Xavier Thursday night 68-60. The 'Cats trailed 53-49 with about seven minutes to go, then ended the game on a 19-7 run. Unfortunately, they couldn't quite come back far enough to cover the spread as 10-point favorites.
Arizona only shot 41 percent from the floor Thursday, but hit 17 of 19 free-throws and won the turnover battle 12-8.
The Wildcats are now 13-0 SU, 7-6 ATS this season against teams that made the NCAA Tournament, including their 93-72 victory over Texas Southern last Thursday and their 73-58 victory over Ohio State last Saturday.
Big Ten champion Wisconsin reached Saturday's regional final by outlasting North Carolina Thursday night 79-72. The Badgers trailed by seven about midway through the second half, then used a 19-7 run (sound familiar?) to take the lead for good. The Heels pulled to within one point with 50 seconds to go, but Wisconsin hit eight straight free-throws – just as we had hoped - to secure the victory and the unlikely cover as a six-point favorite.
The Badgers shot 46 percent from the floor Thursday, and won the battle on the boards by a 35-28 margin.
Wisconsin is now 16-2 SU, 9-9 ATS against teams that made the Big Dance this season. That includes an 86-72 victory over Coastal Carolina last Friday, and a 72-65 win over Oregon last Sunday.
Wildcats-Badgers, Common Foes
These two teams have played four common opponents this season; Michigan, Cal, Ohio State and Oregon. Arizona is a perfect 8-0 both SU and ATS against those four teams, while Wisconsin is 5-0 SU, but only 2-3 ATS against those four foes.
Wildcats-Badgers, By the Numbers
Wisconsin is shooting 48 percent from the floor this season, and 77 percent from the line, which is super for a college team. The Badgers are also holding opponents to 42 percent FG shooting, although in this tournament their three opponents have hit 23 of 44 shots from 3-point range. North Carolina alone went eight-for-13 from beyond the arc Thursday night. And yet, Wisconsin still won and covered.
Arizona is shooting almost 49 percent from the floor, while holding opponents to less than 40 percent FG shooting.
Wildcats-Badgers, When They Last Met...
These two teams met in this exact same spot on the bracket almost exactly one year ago, Wisconsin toughing out a 64-63 overtime victory in Anaheim. That game was tight throughout, and eventually came down to a Badgers defensive stand in the last few seconds of OT.
Wisconsin won that game outright as a three-point underdog. Also, with both teams shooting just 39 percent from the floor, that game stayed UNDER its total of 133 even with the extra five minutes.
Wildcats-Badgers Totals Betting Trends
Arizona has played five UNDERS in six games this postseason.
Wisconsin has played four OVERS in six games this postseason.
Wildcats-Badgers Free Pick
This should be a dandy, just like last year, but Wisconsin won that game, and it's better now – more complete - than it was then. We like the Badgers to win this one outright, so add them to your NCAA tournament picks.
NCAA Tournament Pick: Wisconsin +112 on the moneyline at at Pinnacle