The Wisconsin Badgers have made a habit of covering the spread against No. 1 seeds at the NCAA tournament and will try to accomplish that feat one last time this season to earn the national title on Monday night against the Duke Blue Devils at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
The Badgers have covered five in a row when facing top seeds at the Big Dance and won their second consecutive game under that scenario straight-up on Saturday when they upset the previously undefeated Kentucky Wildcats 71-64 as 4.5-point underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in the Final Four.
That big win for Wisconsin over Kentucky has certainly gotten the attention of bettors, who have moved the Badgers to one-point betting favorites over the Blue Devils after the line opened as a pick'em. Duke has only been an underdog three times in the tournament dating back to 2003, losing each time, with the last game coming two years ago when they were routed 85-63 by Louisville as four-point dogs in the Elite Eight.
However, Duke upset Wisconsin 80-70 as a 4.5-point road dog on Dec. 3. The Blue Devils are 6-0 ATS and 5-1 SU in their past six as a dog overall including that victory and got a team-high 22 points from freshman point guard Tyus Jones while fellow freshman Jahlil Okafor had 13 points and six rebounds despite playing with four fouls.
National Player of the Year Frank Kaminsky scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in that loss for the Badgers, and his individual matchup with Okafor could be the key to this Wisconsin vs. Duke betting matchup. Okafor, the only freshman ever to win ACC Player of the Year, had 18 points and six boards in an 81-61 victory against the Michigan State Spartans in the Final Four on Saturday as Duke easily covered as a 5.5-point favorite.
Since suffering that loss to the Blue Devils the Badgers have gone 29-2 SU and 15-15-1 ATS, and they are currently riding an 11-game winning streak. They were favorites in every game this season up until playing the second-seeded Arizona Wildcats in the Elite Eight, winning two in a row as dogs before returning to the role of chalk against Duke.
The OVER is 3-0 in the previous three meetings between the teams according to the OddsShark College Basketball Database, 5-1 in Wisconsin’s last six games overall, and 5-1 in the past six for the Blue Devils as dogs.