NCAA Tournament 2012: Kentucky vs. Louisville Betting Odds and Early Predictions

Jeff Grant@@JeffGrantSportsContributor IMarch 25, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MARCH 25:  Terrence Jones #3 of the Kentucky Wildcats celebrates against the Baylor Bears in the first half during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball South Regional Final at the Georgia Dome on March 25, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats (36-2) and Louisville Cardinals (30-9) are set to play for the second time this year when they face off in the 2012 NCAA Tournament on Saturday in New Orleans.

Las Vegas oddsmakers have established the Wildcats as eight-point favorites in this Final Four contest, two points fewer than when they met on Dec. 31 at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.

Kentucky captured a 69-62 victory in that affair due to an aggressive defense that limited Louisville to 32.3 percent shooting from the field.

There's no doubt that the Wildcats will focus on stopping Cardinals sophomore guard Russ Smith, who led all scorers by knocking down 10-of-20 shots and finishing with 30 points.

Sports bettors will have no trouble laying the points on the Wildcats due to No. 1 seeds being 4-0 against the spread (ATS) in their last four tries in the Final Four.

Louisville will also look to snap an 0-4 ATS run for No. 4 seeds in this round, as it rides a wave of momentum into this stage after capturing a 72-68 come-from-behind win over the Florida Gators as one-point underdogs in the Elite Eight.

It's also important to note that the underdogs in this matchup have already dispatched another No. 1 seed in the Big Dance, registering an impressive 57-44 win over the Michigan State Spartans in the Sweet 16.

Casual college basketball onlookers may jump at the opportunity of playing the underdog Cardinals since Louisville lost by just seven points in the first meeting. But the Wildcats held a 15-point lead with 4:56 left in the first half.

I'm going to have a hard time bucking the favorites after their impressive play in Atlanta, especially with revenge-minded teams being 2-8 ATS in their last 10 opportunities in the Final Four.

Handicapper Line: Kentucky Wildcats -9.5

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