Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, and Sam Darnold are among the Heisman favorites...
Sunday’s NCAA Tournament betting preview: South Region
(10) Wichita State Shockers vs. (2) Kentucky Wildcats (-4.5, 153.5)
Game to be played at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Wichita State paid the price in the NCAA Tournament four seasons ago when it faced an under-seeded squad in Kentucky, which promptly ended the Shockers’ run at history at 35-1. While the faces may have changed and the expectations – based on their seeding in this Tournament – almost are opposite of what they were in their 2014 meeting, much feels the same between the teams as they prepare to square off again Sunday in South Region second-round action in Indianapolis.
The Wildcats, who rode a No. 8 seed to the championship game in 2013-14, sent then-No. 1 seed Wichita State home in the Round of 32 when Fred VanVleet missed a potential game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer, stopping the Shockers’ bid to become the first team since Indiana in 1975-76 to finish a season undefeated. None of the 17 players who participated in Kentucky’s 78-76 victory that day will be around to take part in the second act, although this time it will be the second-seeded Wildcats playing the role of favorite over 10th-seeded Wichita State. The Shockers extended their winning streak to 16 games with Friday’s 64-58 first-round win over Dayton, holding the Flyers to season lows in points and field-goal percentage (31 percent). The Wildcats earned their 12th straight victory in Friday’s nightcap in Indianapolis, upending Northern Kentucky 79-70 on the strength of 15 points and a career-high 18 rebounds by 6-10 freshman Edrice Adebayo.
TV: 2:40 p.m. ET, CBS
LINE HISTORY: Oddsmakers opened Kentucky as 3.5-point favorites and they have been bet up to the current number of -4.5. The total hit the board at 153.5. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT WICHITA STATE: In addition to owning far and away the Missouri Valley Conference’s top scoring offense (81.5 points), the Shockers boast the conference’s top marks in field-goal percentage defense (37.6 – fourth in the nation), 3-point percentage defense (30.9 – 17th) and rebounding margin (plus-9.2 – third). Leading scorers Markis McDuffie (11.7 points) and freshman guard Landry Shamet (11.2) shot a combined 4-of-17 against Dayton but received plenty of help from Zach Brown (12 points, 3-of-3 from beyond the arc) and Rashard Kelly (eight, career-high 11 rebounds). Shamet has connected on a 3-pointer in 24 consecutive games and made a freshman school-record 70 on the season, while Conner Frankamp has recorded at least one in 21 straight contests and leads the team with 71.
ABOUT KENTUCKY: Adebayo (13.3 points, team-high 8.1 boards), whose 18 rebounds were the most by a Wildcat in an NCAA Tournament game since Jerry Bird grabbed 24 in 1956, is averaging 13.8 points and 10.5 boards during Kentucky’s winning streak. Leading scorer Malik Monk (team-high 20.2 points) continued to struggle to find his range Friday with a 3-of-11 effort, including 0-of-6 from beyond the arc, leaving the sharpshooter 3-of-21 from long range and averaging 11.4 points over his last five contests. Fellow freshman De’Aaron Fox (16.2 points, 4.8 assists) led the Wildcats in scoring Friday for the fourth time in as many games with 19 points and is averaging 20.8 on 56.5-percent shooting during Monk’s slump.
* Wichita State is 6-1 ATS in its last seven games as an underdog.
* Kentucky is 1-4 ATS in its last five NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 4-0 in Wichita State’s last four games overall.
* Under is 7-1 in Kentucky’s last eight games overall.
Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.
(8) Arkansas Razorbacks vs. (1) North Carolina Tar Heels (-10.5, 162)
Game to be played at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, South Carolina
North Carolina has unfinished business in the NCAA Tournament, but the next step for the top-seeded Tar Heels is Sunday’s encounter with eighth-seeded Arkansas in Greenville, S.C. The Razorbacks advanced to the second round in the South Region with a close win over Seton Hall, while the Tar Heels cruised in their tournament opener.
Justin Jackson was the story for North Carolina on Friday, posting 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting (5-of-8 from the arc) in a much-needed performance for the ACC Player of the Year. The junior had shot 7-of-31 from the arc during a four-game shooting slump and also pulled down seven rebounds in the Round of 64 – his highest total in two months. “Everybody panics when somebody is having an off day, multiple off days,” point guard Joel Berry II said after the 103-64 win against Texas Southern, “but that’s just part of the game. Sometimes it doesn’t go in for you and just seeing (Jackson’s) 3s go down tonight, it was pretty good. And I have confidence in him no matter what.” Arkansas received a combined 43 points from Moses Kingsley and Jaylen Barford in its 77-71 victory against Seton Hall and is eyeing its first Sweet 16 since 1996.
TV: 6:10 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE HISTORY: The Tar Heels hit the board as 9-point favorites, but that number didn’t last long as North Carolina hit double digits and currently sits at -10.5. The total opened at a high 161.5 and has still moved up to the current number of 162. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT ARKANSAS: The Razorbacks are 0-8 all-time against No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, although they enter this weekend having won nine of their last 11 games and proved they can win despite getting outrebounded by 14 against Seton Hall. Five players combined to score all 77 points for Arkansas with Kingsley shooting 10-of-13 and Barford adding seven rebounds and four steals to go with his 20 points. Dustin Thomas gave the team a lift in the first round with 13 points – matching a season high – while Dusty Hannahs chipped in 14 points, scoring in double-digits for the 15th time in his last 16 games.
ABOUT NORTH CAROLINA: In their first NCAA Tournament game since losing the 2016 national title at the buzzer, the Tar Heels shot over 50 percent from the field and doubled up Texas Southern on the boards, 54-27, while overcoming a poor performance from their point guard. Berry shot 1-of-8 from the field and 1-of-6 from long range and has missed 10 of his 12 3-point attempts over the last two games, although he remains the team’s best 3-point shooter (40.7 percent). Kennedy Meeks has increased his shooting percentage in five straight games, from 37.5 percent to 42.9 to 57.1 to 64.3 to 75 percent (3-of-4) as part of a 13-point effort in the Round of 64.
* Arkansas is 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games versus ACC opponents.
* North Carolina is 5-1 ATS in its last six NCAA Tournament games.
* Under is 5-1 in Arkansas’ last six non-conference games.
* Over is 5-0 in North Carolina’s last five NCAA Tournament games.
Click here for a complete list hot and cold trends.
(6) Cincinnati Bearcats vs. (3) UCLA Bruins (-4, 153)
Game to be played at Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, California
The top-scoring team in the country will take on one of the toughest to score against when third-seeded UCLA meets sixth-seeded Cincinnati in an East Region second round game Sunday evening at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. The Bruins average a nation-leading 90.6 points a game following their 97-80 first round win Friday against Kent State, and the Bearcats are fifth in the NCAA in scoring defense (60.8) following their 75-61 win against Kansas State in the opening round.
Cincinnati also flashed its offensive capabilities in its win against Kansas State, shooting 62 percent from the field and owning a 34-22 advantage in the paint. That skill and determination on both ends of the floor could make them a legitimate threat against UCLA, which has shown flaws in its defense during the season, especially when guarding man-to-man. The Bruins will depend on freshman point guard Lonzo Ball to break through the Cincinnati defense, but his movement will be something to watch after he took a hard fall against Kent State after getting undercut while leaping for a pass in the post. UCLA has four players who average more than Cincinnati leading scorer Jacob Evans (13.5), but all the Bearcats’ starters are capable of huge games, most recently senior guard Troy Caupain, who scored a season-high 23 points with seven rebounds in the win against Kansas State.
TV: 9:40 p.m. ET, TBS
LINE HISTORY: UCLA hit the board as 3-point favorites and have been bet up to the current number of -4. The total opened at 153 and has yet to move off that number. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT CINCINNATI: The Bearcats are the only No. 6 seed to survive to the second round, and they’ll need a strong defensive effort and big offensive games from at least three of their starters if they hope to make it to the Sweet Sixteen. Evans, a 6-6 sophomore guard, should be ready to break out after being held to nine points against Kansas State and 10 in a loss to SMU in the American Athletic Conference tournament championship last weekend. Kyle Washington, the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.1, and Gary Clark at 10.1, should have a big impact in this matchup as they’ll hold down the front court against a longer UCLA team.
ABOUT UCLA: None of the current UCLA players likely remember when the Bruins knocked off the top-seeded Bearcats in double-overtime to reach the Sweet Sixteen in 2002, but the Bruins probably learned a lot about it during their off day. Like that day when Dan Gadzuric dominated the middle, Jason Kapono was sharp from outside and freshman point guard Cedric Bozeman ran the offense smoothly and efficiently, UCLA will need 6-10 freshman T.J. Leaf to be the best post player on both teams, Bryce Alford to shoot a high percentage from outside and Ball to distribute the ball well. A player the Bearcats may have trouble matching against is 7-foot forward Thomas Welch, who should find room to implement his dangerous mid-range game.
* Cincinnati is 5-1 ATS in its last six games overall.
* UCLA is 0-4 ATS its last four games overall.
* Over is 3-0-1 in Cincinnati’s last four games overall.
* Under is 5-1 in Bruins last 6 games following a SU win.
Click here for a complete list of hot and cold trends.