NCAA Tournament Picks of the Day: West Virginia vs. Kentucky

Nikki Adams

Thursday, March 26, 2015 5:01 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 26, 2015 5:01 PM UTC

West Virginia Mountaineers take on the seemingly infallible Kentucky Wildcats today, with the NCAA basketball betting odds stacked severely against them. Can the Mountaineers spring the surprise on the Wildcats or is it really as tall of an order as the odds makers suggest?

Kentucky HOT FAVES
Analysis: Kentucky Wildcats ride into tonight's clash with West Virginia Mountaineers boasting a perfect 36-0 record. They may be the best team in the nation, if not in the history of NCAA basketball. That said the Mountaineers fancy their chances even if the odds makers don't, as evinced by their staggering +750 money line posted on the NCAA Tournament odds boards.

West Virginia +750, +13.0 (-110)  O/U 136.5
Kentucky -1200, -13.0 (-110) O/U 136.5

There doesn't appear to be any shortage of confidence in their ranks, which is going to be an important intangible on the court. It's enough to hve some college basketball betting fans entertaining the potential upset on today's NCAA tournament picks.

West Virginia are coming off a 69-59 win over Maryland Terrapins, marking their second straight win since losing to No.16 Baylor in the Big 12 tourney 80-70. The loss to Baylor was particularly disappointing as the Mountaineers gave as good as they got, and, even, led in the game 62-61 with just 7 minutes  to go, only for the Bears to turn the game on its head and take it up a notch. Nevertheless, West Virginia fans look upon that game as another promising sign.

 If the Mountaineers can give as good as they are sure to get from the Wildcats, they could keep this game close. Certainly, closer than the 13-point spread would suggest. Then, anything could happen in a single-elimination tournament. Obviously, it'll be important to keep the pressure on until the end. It's not how well you start a game but how well you finish that makes the difference.

Kentucky Justifiably Favoured
Kentucky Wildcats are justifiably the runaway favourites at -1200 to win outright in tonight's highly-anticipated game. They are 36-0 on the season, having simply forgotten what it's like to lose. Winning has become a habit and although not all of their wins have been pretty they still got the crucial "W" in the end. That's what matters the most: knowing how to win, even winning ugly.

Wildcats are coming off a 64-51 win over Cincinnati, comprised of winning both halves of the game 31-24 and 33-27 to move into the round of Sweet 16. The performance was flawless in every aspect, from imposing their game on Cincinnati and defending tirelessly. In beating Cincinnati, the Wildcats surpassed last year's Wichita State record for most wins on the season.

Top Over/Under Plays on Offer in the Sweet 16

By the Stats:
Mountaineers have gone 3-3 in their last six games SU. They are 5-0 ATS in their last five non-Conference games and 5-2 ATS in their last seven neutral site games. They are averaging 73.6 points per game on 41.2 percent shooting and allowing 66.5 points on 46.8 percent shooting. Juwan Staten, who missed the Big 12 tourney with a bum knee, is averaging 14.2 points and 4.8 assists. Defensively, WVU have given up an average of 64 points or less in their last 10 games. They go into this game with a 25-9 win-loss record and 21-13 ATS record, highlighted by a 7.1 margin of victory. They covered their last two games against Buffalo Bulls as the 4.5-point faves and against Maryland as the 1.5-point faves.

West Virginia are unbeaten this season. They are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 NCAA Tourney games and 11-3-2 ATS in their last 16 neutral site games. Overall, they are 18-16-2 ATS on the season, highlighted by a whopping 20.8 margin of victory. They've averaged 74.7 points on 46.6 percent shooting and allowed 53.9 points on 35.1 percent shooting. They failed to cover their last two games against the spread; they are 3-2-1 ATS in their last six. Having said that they've were dealing with hefty spreads as the 35-point faves against Hampton and 16-point faves against Cincinnati.

NCAA Betting Verdict:
The basketball betting trends on this game are rather revealing, with a whopping 67% of the public piling onto West Virginia's money line odds and almost equally so (63%) are tickling them as the 13-point underdogs on the point spread. Does this mean the public really expects the upset or is it just a case of the NCAA odds being too tempting not to tickle on sports picks?

The +750 NCAA odds practically leap off the page and it does appear basketball bettors are piling onto them in the event of the unthinkable actually coming to pass. Reality is, Kentucky's record going into this game is irreproachable, which makes betting against them a risky enterprise. Based on form they really should win. Where West Virginia could give them a run for their money is on the scoreboard, which makes them a smart basketball pick against the spread as the 13-point underdogs to cover. If you are going to back the upset on your NCAA picks, take the Mountaineers to cover but the Wildcats to edge the victory.

NCAA Tournament Picks: Wildcats to edge the narrow victory; Mountaineers to cover 13-points.

View Tonight's Wichita State vs. Notre Dame NCAA Tournament Picks

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