NCAA Tournament Betting: Wisconsin to 'Cover' vs. American

Jeff Grant

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 6:32 PM GMT

Wisconsin Badgers head coach Bo Ryan is one of the best tacticians in college basketball, which provides the program a major edge over the American University Eagles Thursday.

Let’s take a closer look at the 2014 NCAA Tournament odds for this second round matchup in the West Region at the Bradley Center, with the opening tip scheduled for 12:45 p.m. ET on truTV.

Luck of the draw

Wisconsin has a great opportunity to advance to at least the Sweet 16, as its fan base will make the short drive from Madison to Milwaukee to support a program that landed one of four No. 2 seeds in the tournament.

The Badgers will be making their 16th consecutive trip to the Big Dance, while they’ve gone 6-1 SU in opening games when earning a top-five seed in the Bo Ryan era.

College basketball handicappers will find that the program is 4-1 ATS in its last five games on a neutral floor.

Surprise package

American was picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Patriot League in the preseason poll, but it exceeded everyone’s expectations under first-year head coach Mike Brennan, who previously served as an assistant at the school—while also making stops at Georgetown and Princeton.

The Eagles are a difficult matchup for nearly every team in the country due to their slower-paced play on both ends of the floor.

It’s important to point out that the team has covered the number in its last six games at a neutral site.

Offensive firepower

The Badgers are enjoying their best offensive season under Ryan, as they come in averaging 73.5 points on 45.8 percent shooting.

Wisconsin has four players averaging double figures, with junior forward Frank Kaminsky leading the way at 13.6 points a contest.

Check out and compare the top NCAA Tournament Betting Lines

Facing the Big Ten

The Eagles dropped a 63-52 decision to the Ohio State Buckeyes as 26-point road underdogs in their only previous game against a Big Ten Conference opponent this season on Nov. 20.

American will need to do a better job of taking care of the basketball versus a top-level opponent, as it turned the ball over 26 times against the Buckeyes, with star Tony Wroblicky accounting for nine of them.

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Badgers as one of their NCAA basketball picks, as they’ve played their best basketball away from home during the 2013-14 campaign.

American has enjoyed a memorable season to this point, but it’ll end in a virtual road game Thursday.

Pick: Wisconsin Badgers -13

[gameodds]14/262050/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]