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Kentucky Wildcats vs. North Carolina Tar Heels: Odds, March Madness Betting Pick

OddsShark.com@@OddsSharkFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2017

LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 28:  A Kentucky Wildcats cheerleader performs in the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Rupp Arena on February 28, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

A second consecutive rematch of a regular-season game will take place in the South Regional Final for the second-seeded Kentucky Wildcats (32-5) on Sunday in Memphis when they take on the top-seeded North Carolina Tar Heels as small underdogs.

The Wildcats avenged an earlier loss to the UCLA Bruins by knocking them out of the Big Dance in the Sweet 16 and now look to beat the Tar Heels (30-7) for the second time this year and fifth time in six meetings.

Point spread: The Tar Heels opened as three-point favorites; the total is at 155.5, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)

March Madness betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 77.1-73.4 Tar Heels (College basketball picks on every game)

Why Kentucky can cover the spread

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Kentucky enters the Elite Eight as the hottest team in the country, riding a 14-game winning streak SU and going 6-6-2 ATS during that stretch. The Wildcats are 1-1-1 ATS in the tournament and put together their most complete game in eliminating the third-seeded Bruins 86-75 as 1.5-point underdogs Friday.

Freshman De'Aaron Fox rose to the occasion and outplayed UCLA's Lonzo Ball with a career-high 39 points, going 13-of-15 from the free-throw line. Monk added 21, and Kentucky will be difficult to top in this spot if the young players continue to be aggressive and play beyond their years.

Why North Carolina can cover the spread

North Carolina is the last ACC team standing in the NCAA tournament and will be looking to take out the SEC's top squad with revenge on its mind. The Tar Heels lost the first meeting 103-100 in Las Vegas last December 17, as Malik Monk set a freshman record for the Wildcats with 47 points.

You can bet head coach Roy Williams will remind his players of that poor defensive performance and demand a much better effort here. North Carolina has gone 9-3 against the spread in the past 12 meetings despite losing four of five straight up, according to the OddsShark College Basketball Database.

Smart betting pick

The Wildcats are 6-1 SU in their last seven games following a victory as underdogs at sports betting sites, and they will improve that trend with a second consecutive upset Sunday.

March Madness betting trends

Kentucky is 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games against North Carolina.

The total has gone over in Kentucky's last three games against North Carolina.

North Carolina is 0-3 ATS in its last three games after an ATS win.

The total has gone over in five of North Carolina's last seven games against the SEC.

All college basketball lines and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.

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