After making a run to the Final Four last season, the 34-0 Wichita State Shockers, who at the moment are enjoying a 17-4 run against the spread, begin their quest for a repeat performance when they take on the Cal Poly Mustangs in the Midwest Region.
The Shockers don’t get as much point-spread respect as the other top seeds, but they are still favored by 16 points here. If that scares people, maybe it shouldn’t.
WSU has faced a spread of at least 12 points in its past eight games and has covered it every time.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Shockers opened as 18-point favorites; the total opened Thursday around 125.5. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report.)
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick Cal Poly to cover the spread
Cal Poly made the NCAA tournament as a No. 16 seed by unexpectedly winning the Big West tournament. The team went 6-10 in conference play during the regular season but won three games in three days, knocking off the top two seeds, in the conference tournament.
The Mustangs then won their first-ever NCAA tournament game when they beat Texas Southern on Wednesday night 81-69, shooting 57 percent from the field and covering as four-point favorites.
Cal Poly starts three seniors, and while the Mustangs are a bit pedestrian on offense, they do play decent defense, holding opponents to 63 points per game and 43 percent field-goal shooting for the season.
Why pick Wichita State to cover the spread
The top-seeded Shockers, dual champions in the Missouri Valley Conference this season, are the first team in over 20 years to enter the tournament undefeated.
Wichita State returned two starters from the team that went to the Final Four last year as well as four others who played in at least 30 games. So the cupboard wasn't exactly bare.
The Shockers own victories this season over Tulsa, BYU, Saint Louis and Tennessee, covering the spread in each of those games. Wichita State does most of its damage on defense, ranking 13th in the nation by holding foes to 39 percent field-goal shooting.
They have a knack for covering big spreads.
Smart betting pick
The knock on Wichita State is its strength of schedule this season, as it played in a weaker MVC. But the Shockers have eaten teams like Cal Poly alive.
Wichita State is 7-2 ATS in its last nine NCAA tournament games and 15-5 ATS this season as double-digit chalk. Cal Poly has made a nice little run, but it ends Friday. Give the points and go with Wichita State.
Cal Poly Mustangs: No. 81
Wichita State Shockers: No. 4 (per Odds Shark power ranks)
March Madness betting trends
- Cal Poly is 5-12 ATS in its last 17 games
- Wichita State 17-4 ATS run past 21 games
- WSU favored by 12 or more points past eight games, covered every spread
- WSU 14-3 ATS past 17 games as double-digit chalk
- WSU 7-2 ATS in tournament games since 2006