The Syracuse Orange's last six wins were by an average margin of just 4.3 points, so will they be able to cover a big spread at the sportsbooks when they take on the upset-minded Western Michigan Broncos in South Region action Thursday?
The computer doesn’t think so, and the fact that the Broncos are riding a hot 9-2-1 against-the-spread streak should make bettors think twice here.
Spread and total-points-scored betting line
The Orange opened as 12.5-point favorites; the total was 128. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report)
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick Western Michigan to cover the spread
No. 14 Western Michigan finished second in the Mid-American Conference but blasted top-seeded Toledo 98-77 in the conference championship to automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament.
The Broncos finished the year on a 14-2 straight-up run and went 9-2-1 against the spread in their last 12 games. Syracuse struggled down the stretch and could be ripe for an upset.
Why pick Syracuse to cover the spread
The No. 3 Orange finished second in the ACC and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament after looking like the nation’s best team for most of the season. Syracuse began the season 25-0 thanks to its vaunted zone defense.
Western Michigan ranks 219th in the country in three-point field-goal percentage, which plays right into the Syracuse defense.
Smart betting pick
Western Michigan coach Steve Hawkins is in search of his first tournament win, while Jim Boeheim seeks his 53rd victory. Syracuse has the experienced coach and the better team, but the point spread is far too big for this game.
Western Michigan, which has a higher power ranking than Syracuse, will have no problem with the cover. Take the Broncos and the points.
Western Michigan Broncos: No. 80
Syracuse Orange: No. 117 (per Odds Shark power ranks)
March Madness betting trends
- WMU 9-2-1 ATS past 12 games
- WMU 14-2 SU past 16 games overall
- WMU first tourney game since 2004
- Syracuse 1-6-1 ATS past eight games
- Syracuse 2-7 ATS past nine games as favorites
- Orange played five straight UNDERs in 2013 Madness