The defending champion Louisville Cardinals are rolling at the right time once again with 16 wins in their last 18 games heading into this NCAA tournament.
But they face a Manhattan Jaspers team that has been vicious as underdogs.
Oddsmakers fear the Cardinals, installing them as one of the March Madness favorites despite being just a No. 4 seed. They begin what they hope results in a third straight run to the Final Four when they take on the Jaspers in a Midwest Region game on Thursday.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Cardinals opened as 12.5-point favorites, but the line was all the way to -16.5 by midday Wednesday. The total was 142.5. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report)
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick Manhattan to cover the spread
The No. 13 Jaspers finished second in the Metro Atlantic this season, then won the conference tournament to earn their first Big Dance bid in 10 years. Manhattan started 11-2 this season and ended on an 11-1 run. Also, of its seven losses, six came by six points or less, helping the Jaspers go 3-1 against the spread as underdogs.
In fact, Manhattan is 15-2 ATS in its last 17 games as betting dogs over the past few years. The Jaspers start three seniors and have 10 guys averaging at least 10 minutes per game.
Why pick Louisville to cover the spread
The champs shared the American Athletic Conference regular-season title with Cincinnati, then won the conference tournament to reach the tournament once again. Louisville hasn't played the toughest of schedules this season, but its five losses have all come against teams that made the tournament—North Carolina, Kentucky, Memphis (twice) and Cincy.
The No. 4 Cardinals start three seniors, including three key members of their national championship game last April.
Smart betting pick
This game matches Louisville coach Rick Pitino against his former player and assistant, Manhattan coach Steve Masiello. Does that mean the Cardinals will go easy on the Jaspers?
Not likely. Louisville has been roasting teams lately, and it could happen again Thursday. Also, Louisville has been a solid tournament bet as of late, going 8-2-1 ATS in its last 11 tournament games. They are 15-9 ATS as a double-digit favorite this season. Give the points and go with the Cardinals.
Manhattan Jaspers: No. 29
Louisville Cardinals: No. 1 (per Odds Shark power ranks)
March Madness betting trends
- Louisville won and covered five straight to end the season
- Louisville 16-2 SU past 18 games
- Louisville 11-1 SU, 9-3 ATS past 12 games as favorites
- Louisville 8-2-1 ATS past 11 tournament games
- UNDER is 5-1 past 6 Louisville first-round games
- Manhattan 11-1 SU past 12 games
- Manhattan 15-2 ATS past 17 games as underdogs