While most gamers try their luck at trying to beat the spread, we'll try and beat the college basketball odds by picking out two total plays that hold good value.
West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Kentucky Wildcats
The Wildcats remain undefeated this season, but they only have one goal in mind and that's to win the national championship. They've taken care of business so far in the tournament and now head into the Sweet Sixteen as the favorites to advance on once more, this time over West Virginia.
In the last round, Kentucky was getting tested by Cincinnati before eventually pulling away in the second half and winning 64-51. As for the Mountaineers, they beat Buffalo by six in their opener and then topped Maryland 69-59 to book their spot in the Sweet Sixteen. As usual, it's been the defensive intensity that's carried John Calipari's crew.
For Thursday the college basketball betting odds board has the Wildcats favored by a staggering 13 points, while the total is at 136.5 points for now. If you've been living under a rock or something, Kentucky has been a pretty good basketball team, especially on the defensive end of the court. In fact, the Wildcats have had a historical season defensively and will go down as one of the best defensive teams in college basketball history.
That's one of the major reasons why we fancy the UNDER with our NCAA Tournament picks for Thursday's battle. It also helps that West Virginia has been grinding out victories with toughness and intensity defensively so far in this NCAA Tournament, instead of involving themselves in shootouts like they did so often during the regular season. Coach Bob Huggins has stated how "beautiful" it was to watch his team win ugly, and that's the stategy they're going to have to employ to have any chance of ending Kentucky's historical season. We expect West Virginia to do everything in their power to make this game ugly, and with Kentucky so good defensively themselves, we'll back the UNDER confidently.
NCAA Tournament Pick: UNDER 136.5
UCLA Bruins vs. Gonzaga Bulldogs
One of the pleasant surpries of the tournament so far has been the play of the Bruins. A lot of people didn't even think they deserved a spot in the tournament at all, yet here they are in the Sweet Sixteen have two great wins in a row.
First UCLA outlasted SMU in a hard-fought 60-59 win, and then the Bruins scooted past UAB in a 92-75 win. Tony Parker had a career outing, recording 28 points and 12 boards, with UCLA shooting lights out from the field from the start and never letting up.
Will the Bruins be able to have similar success against the Bulldogs? That's not likely, as one look over the NCAA Tournament odds board shows Gonzaga favored by 8.5 points, with the total at 144 points. If you've been paying attention, you know the Bulldogs have been one of the most efficient offensive teams in the nation. Not only are they top 10 in points scored per game, but more impressively they're ranked first in the entire country in field goal percentage (52.4). Kyle Wiltjer has been playing tremendous basketball and has been the standout go-to option for Gonzaga throughout the tournament, and we'll have to see if he can cause matchup problems against UCLA.
When looking over this matchup closer, it's hard to imagine not seeing some kind of shootout once again. The last time these two teams met, Gonzaga won 87-74, and that seems like a legitimate score we could see Friday. The Bruins, who have five different players who average in double figures, have a nice balance to their makeup, and if they can hit some shots early, we should be able to see the O/U end up OVER at the end of the day.
NCAA Tournament Pick: OVER 144