The Baylor Bears are growling again, with 12 wins in their last 14 games, including 10 covers.
Coming off a complete mauling of a pretty good Creighton team, the Bears will go looking for more when they take on the Wisconsin Badgers in a West Region Sweet 16 contest Thursday night out in Anaheim.
This matchup of No. 2 seed vs. No. 6 seed has showed an interesting breakdown over the years, with the higher seed usually winning and the lower seed usually covering the spread.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Badgers opened as four-point favorites, but it had been bet down to minus-3 by Tuesday. The total was 136.5 as of Tuesday. (Compare lines and consensus on the Odds Shark matchup report)
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick Baylor to cover the spread
The Bears are in the tournament for the third time in the last five seasons, earning an at-large bid after finishing in sixth place in a Big 12 conference that sent six teams to the Big Dance. Baylor got off to a great start this year, then went into a midseason funk, losing seven of eight games.
But the Bears are hot again, their only two losses since Valentine's Day coming against Texas and fellow Sweet 16er Iowa State. Baylor opened this NCAA tournament with a win and cover against Nebraska, then crushed third-seeded Creighton 85-55, shooting a ridiculous 64 percent from the floor, making 11 of 18 shots from beyond the arc.
Baylor has reached the regional semis in each of its last two tournament appearances, winning both times. The Bears are also riding a hot streak against the spread (10-3-1 past 14 games).
Why pick Wisconsin to cover the spread
The Badgers are now 12-of-12 in making the NCAA tournament under coach Bo Ryan and probably field their best team of the Ryan era. Wisconsin started 16-0 this season, then, like Baylor, struggled through a rough stretch, losing five of six.
But Bucky has won 11 of its last 13 games and advanced to the regional semis for the third time in the last four seasons. Second-seeded Wisconsin opened this tournament with a 40-point victory over American, then rallied furiously in the second half to beat a hot Oregon team Saturday 85-77, sneaking out a cover as six-point chalk.
The Badgers trailed the Ducks by a dozen at halftime, then won the second half by a 48-28 margin.
Smart betting pick
No. 2 seeds have won eight of their last nine meetings with No. 6 seeds in the NCAA tournament, stretching back to 2002, but sixth seeds have covered seven of the last 10 meetings with second seeds. Historically, that indicates these No. 2 vs. No. 6 matchups play closer than the oddsmakers might believe.
So it won't be much of a surprise if Baylor wins this game outright. Back the Bears, plus the points.
Baylor Bears: No. 37
Wisconsin Badgers: No. 34 (per Odds Shark power ranks)
Sweet 16 betting trends
- Baylor is 10-3-1 ATS past 14 games overall
- Wisconsin 1-4 SU past five trips to Sweet 16
- Wisconsin 7-2 ATS past nine tournament games
- No. 2 seeds are 8-1 SU since 2002 vs. No. 6 seeds
- No. 6 seeds are 7-3 ATS past 10 vs. No. 2 seeds