The second-seeded Wisconsin Badgers started slowly in their NCAA tournament opener Thursday, then blew away 15th-seeded American University, winning by 40 points.
However, the Badgers might have a little more on their hands for their next game, when they face the high-flying Oregon Ducks in the West Region at 7:45 p.m. Saturday in Milwaukee, Wis.
Recent tournament history says Wisconsin is safe here, as No. 2 seeds have won 10 straight games when facing No. 7 schools.
Spread and total-points-scored betting line
The Badgers opened as four-point favorites; the total was 142. Compare lines and consensus-picks data in the matchup report from Odds Shark.
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick Oregon to cover the spread?
The Ducks made it to the Sweet 16 last year and got this year's tournament off to an excellent start with an 87-68 romp over BYU Wednesday. No. 7 Oregon shot 50 percent from the floor Thursday, easily covering the spread as four-point favorites.
The Ducks struggled through a tough January but have won nine of their last 10 games and have covered nine of their last 12. For the season Oregon is averaging 82 points per game on 47 percent field-goal shooting.
Oregon has now covered in four straight tournament games, and these Ducks bite very hard as underdogs (9-2 against the spread in the past 11 games in this situation).
Why pick Wisconsin to cover the spread?
The Badgers are in the tournament for the 16th straight season, earning a No. 2 seed after winning 26 games and beating the likes of Florida, Virginia, Michigan and Michigan State along the way.
Then after falling behind American early on Thursday, Wisconsin went on an epic 65-18 run for a 75-35 victory. The Badgers are very balanced on offense, with five guys averaging at least 9.5 points per game as part of the highest-scoring team they've assembled under coach Bo Ryan.
They have faced No. 7 seeds twice since 1996, losing both times. But No. 2 seeds are enjoying a 10-0 run against No. 7 seeds over the past few tournaments, according to Odds Shark.
Smart betting pick
This should be a dandy, with Wisconsin's improved scoring going against the Ducks' explosiveness. But one problem the Badgers have had, at times, this season is their occasional lapses on defense.
And if the threes aren't falling, Wisconsin can find itself in trouble. The Badgers are short favorites for this game and will own a home-crowd advantage, but the smart play is taking Oregon and the points.
Oregon Ducks: No. 21
Wisconsin Badgers: No. 34 (per Odds Shark power rankings)
March Madness betting trends
- No. 2 seeds have won 10 straight vs. No. 7 seeds
- Oregon 9-2-1 ATS past 12 games overall
- Oregon 9-2 ATS past 11 games as underdog
- Oregon 4-0 ATS past four tournament games
- Wisconsin was upset twice against No. 7 seeds (UNLV in 2007, Texas in 1997)
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