Sweet 16 underdogs are on a 17-7 against the spread (ATS) winning run heading into this year’s regional semifinals, which include Friday's game between the No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers and the No. 4 seed Michigan State Spartans at Madison Square Garden.
The Sweet 16 underdog for that game? It's the top seed in the region, Virginia.
If you are wondering how often a No. 4 school is favored against a No. 1 school, it has happened just once since 1996, according to the Odds Shark searchable Madness database. No. 4 Louisville beat No. 1 Washington in 2005.
Spread and total points scored betting line
The Spartans opened as one-point favorites, but the number had grown to two by Wednesday. The total was 127 in early wagering. (Compare lines and consensus betting data on the Odds Shark matchup report.)
Odds Shark computer pick
Why pick Michigan State to cover the spread
The No. 4 Spartans are on a 6-1 ATS win streak, including the Big Ten Championship, a 14-point blowout of rival Michigan.
Coach Tom Izzo’s boys have surged offensively during a five-game win streak on the hardwood, averaging 78.4 points per game. In contrast, they’re allowing only 66.4 points in those games.
That 12-point average margin is all in the postseason.
Why pick Virginia to cover the spread
First of all, considering this is a low number, it’s important to note Michigan State is mired in a 3-7 straight up (SU) slide against No. 1 seeds since 1996.
That doesn’t bode well against ACC champ and top-seeded Virginia, which rides in on an 18-1 SU win streak. Second, top seeds are on a 12-4 SU run against No. 4 seeds, overall.
Smart betting pick
Since the selection committee bracketed these teams, everyone from TV analysts to radio personalities to bracketologists to the checkout lady at the grocery store has had Michigan State penciled in to the Final Four.
Everyone except the selection committee, that is.
While it’s true the Spartans are finally healthy, the Cavaliers are still the top seed. They still deserve respect from bettors, even if they are not getting it from oddsmakers.
Virginia has covered five of six on a neutral court, 17 of 21 against winning teams and 18 of 23 overall. Take the underdog.
Michigan State Spartans: No. 36
Virginia Cavaliers: No. 24, per Odds Shark's power ranks.
Sweet 16 betting trends
- Michigan State is 6-1 ATS in its past seven games.
- Michigan State has played four straight UNDERs in Sweet 16 play.
- The Spartans are just 3-7 SU vs. No. 1 seeds since 1996.
- Top seeds are 12-4 SU in their past 16 games vs. No. 4 seeds.
- The only time since 1996 that a No. 4 seed was favored vs. a No. 1 seed, No. 4 Louisville beat No. 1 Washington in 2005.
- Virginia is 18-1 SU in its past 19 games, overall.