NCAA Tournament 2012: Syracuse Is Listed as a Short Favorite Against Wisconsin

Jeff GrantContributor IMarch 21, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 17:  Head coach Jim Boeheim of the Syracuse Orange looks on against the Kansas State Wildcats during the third round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Consol Energy Center on March 17, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 2012 NCAA tournament with wins over UNC Asheville and Kansas State, but many believe the East Region's No. 1 seed will fall flat against the fourth-seeded Wisconsin Badgers on Thursday night inside the TD Garden in Boston.

Las Vegas oddsmakers opened up the Orange as smallish four-point favorites, and that number has fallen by a half-point at most sports books, while the total stands at 120.5.

Syracuse is no stranger to the limelight of advancing in the Big Dance, as this contest will be its 17th appearance in the Sweet 16.

There's no doubt that many sports bettors will be hesitant in laying the points due to the earlier suspension of starting center Fab Melo before the team's second-round game.

I'm not sure if the Big East Conference regular-season champions will miss Melo's presence in the paint in this particular matchup due to Wisconsin's reliance on the three-point shot recently.

The Badgers have made 20 three-point shots in their first two games of the tournament, which actually leads the entire field in that category.

All-Big Ten Conference point guard Jordan Taylor figures to loom large in directing Wisconsin's offense, as he's averaged 17.2 points and 4.6 assists in his last five NCAA tournament games.

There's no doubt that the Orange will try to speed up the tempo in this affair, especially considering that they've failed to cover all three games with a total between 120 to 129.5 this season.

The Badgers have to be thrilled that the Las Vegas total has landed in that range, as they've tallied a perfect 3-0 against the spread record when playing on a neutral court in that situation.

I'm expecting the Orange to run at every opportunity, and the Badgers have gone "over" the total in all three games this season when playing with a total of this kind on a neutral court or on the road as an underdog. 

Pick: Over 120.5