The knock on the Wichita State Shockers is that they haven't played many good teams while running up a gaudy 35-0 record.
The Shockers get a chance to prove themselves worthy of a No. 1 seed when they battle the Kentucky Wildcats in a Midwest Region contest Sunday afternoon in St. Louis.
However, there are numerous trends working against a KU team that began the year as the top-ranked school, including its record against No. 1 seeds and its lame record as an underdog.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Shockers opened as three-point favorites; the total was 134. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report)
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick Kentucky to cover the spread
The Wildcats missed the tournament last year, but are back after finishing second in the SEC and losing by a point to Florida in the conference championship game. Kentucky played below expectations most of the season, but those expectations were huge, so it's almost understandable.
Kentucky won its tournament opener Friday, beating Kansas State 56-49 and limiting its opponent to 36 percent field-goal shooting.
The No. 8 Wildcats start five freshmen, and while they don't always shoot straight, they can still play that pressure D, holding foes to 40 percent shooting for the season.
Why pick Wichita State to cover the spread
The Shockers won both the Missouri Valley regular-season and conference tournament titles this season, becoming the first team to go into the NCAA tournament undefeated since Tark's UNLV team of 1991.
Wichita State then took care of business in usual fashion in its tournament opener Friday, dispatching Cal Poly 64-37 and limiting the Mustangs to just 12 field goals in 58 shot attempts, covering as a 16-point favorite.
They have covered nine straight spreads, all at 12 points or greater. They catch a KU team that has lost 10 of 13 games when catching points and which is 1-4 SU against top seeds since 1996.
Smart betting pick
Wichita State has been the best team in college basketball this season to bet on, going 25-6 against the spread. The Shockers are also 8-2 ATS in their last 10 tournament games.
Kentucky is talented but young, and for this matchup provides Wichita State with a big-name target against which to garner some respect. Give the short spread and go with the Shockers.
Kentucky Wildcats: No. 86
Wichita State Shockers: No. 4 (per Odds Shark power ranks)
March Madness betting trends
- Kentucky 1-4 SU vs No. 1 seeds since 1999
- Wichita State covered nine straight spreads (all 12 or more points)
- Kentucky is 3-10 SU past 13 games as underdogs
- No. 1 seeds 7-2 ATS past vs No. 8 seeds since 2009