Miami has won six straight and has not really been challenged during that stretch, while Marquette was lucky to dodge one of the biggest upsets of the year.
So even though the seed difference is just one position (No. 2 for the Hurricanes, No. 3 for the Golden Eagles), there is a 5.5-point spread favoring the ACC rep in this East Regional semifinal game.
The game goes Thursday night at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC (7:15 pm ET, CBS) and the early betting saw the spread holding steady. But some handicappers were watching the total. Marquette's record when they are an underdog of 6 points or less is 13-4 favoring the UNDER since 2011, according to the college basketball database at OddsShark.com.
Marquette claimed a share of the Big East regular-season title this season, winning its last four games to pull even with Louisville and Georgetown at 14-4 in league play.
The Eagles then lost their first game in the conference tournament to Notre Dame, but that just gave them a full week off before the NCAA tournament.
Third-seeded MU then pulled victory from the gullet of defeat in its Big Dance opener last Thursday, rallying late for a lucky 59-58 victory over 14th-seeded Davidson. The Eagles then came from behind to beat Butler Saturday 74-72, advancing to the Sweet 16 for the third straight season.
Miami, meanwhile, which had never won the ACC or the ACC tournament, pulled off a double conference championship this season. The Hurricanes went 15-3 in league play, beating North Carolina twice and Duke once, to take the ACC regular-season crown, then topped the Tar Heels again to win the conference tournament.
The 'Canes then opened this NCAA tournament with a 78-49 drubbing of 15th-seeded Pacific last Friday, and followed that up with a tough 63-59 victory over Illinois Sunday. So Miami is playing in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2000 and just the second time in program history.
On the season, including its two victories in this NCAA tournament, Marquette is 8-7 SU but only 6-8-1 ATS in games against teams that made the Big Dance.
The 'Canes are 10-3 both SU and ATS in games versus tournament teams.
As of Tuesday, the updated NCAA basketball futures market had Miami getting 19/10 to win the East Region and 15/2 to win the NCAA tournament, while Marquette was getting 7/1 to win the East and 40/1 to win the tournament.