The Wisconsin Badgers will be underdogs for just the second time this season when they square off against the unbeaten Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday in the Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Despite being the top seed in the West region, the Badgers upset the second-seeded Arizona Wildcats for the second year in a row 85-78 as 1.5-point dogs in the Elite Eight Saturday, and hope to continue their good fortunes in that situation against a Kentucky team that won the Midwest region in somewhat impressive fashion but has covered the spread in only one of four games.
Wisconsin was a one-point dog a year ago in the Final Four as the No. 2 seed in the West against the eighth-seeded Wildcats out of the Midwest and ultimately fell short in a 74-73 loss that landed right on the number.
The Badgers were then favored in 37 straight games to start this season until they faced Arizona in the West Regional Final. They saw Sam Dekker erupt for a career-high 27 points, including five three-pointers on six attempts, while AP Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky scored a game-high 29.
The team made 12-of-18 shots from three-point range overall, with 10 of them coming after halftime.
Kentucky is coming off a 68-66 victory against the third-seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Midwest Regional Final, nearly suffering their first loss and failing to cover the spread as 11-point favorites at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.
The Wildcats had turned in their best performance of the NCAA tournament in their previous game against the fifth-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers in the Sweet 16, routing them 78-39 and beating the number easily as 12.5-point chalk for their lone cover of the Big Dance so far. West Virginia was held to 24% shooting from the field (13-of-54) with one player scoring in double figures.
Defense was the difference in last year’s Final Four matchup even though the game went OVER the 138.5-point total on the college basketball betting lines, as Kaminsky was held to eight points after averaging 22 in the previous three games of the tournament.
Outside of that loss, the Badgers have played extremely well as dogs, winning seven of their past 10 in that role while going 7-2-1 against the spread. The Wildcats have won 23 of 26 as favorites in March Madness but have gone 1-4 ATS in their past five after going 6-0-2 in their previous eight.