Before I get to one of this week’s matchups that offers one of the best bets in the Sweet Sixteen round, let me first kick and talk about value. Kentucky is a +2000 mid-play to win the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. Think about this for a second. Twenty-to-one. Compare that to Louisville, which shares the co-favored odds along with Florida at +400. Arizona and Michigan State chime as tight second favorites with +450 odds.
I mean, how can you ignore the inherent value Kentucky presents at 20-to-1? Sure, they’ve had their problems but lately they’ve had almost none. Kentucky is a great second half team right now. They clobbered Wichita State 47-39 in the latter half on Sunday during a rousing 78-76 win that vaulted them in to the Sweet Sixteen. And they withstood 31 points from Cleanthony Early – one of the most talented seniors in the country – in the process.
In tournament play thus far, which includes the SEC tourney as well, Kentucky has been one of the best bets so far with a dazzling 4-1 SU and 5-0 ATS run. As you know, that one loss was a one-point defeat against Florida. I mean, Kentucky has been inconsistent, but don’t they feel and look like a championship contender? When you’re scanning the odds to win the NCAA Tournament, you have to keep these things in mind. You’ll have to leverage a lot to make significant dividends on the favored teams. Kentucky’s +2000 odds are delightfully massive, meaning you can make a mountain while betting a mole hill.
To have any type of value, Kentucky will need to get past a juggernaut and the reigning defending champion. Louisville is a fantastic, disciplined and well-oiled machine of death and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that Louisville was one of the Sweet Sixteen best bets. The truth is that Louisville is almost always a good bet.
They’ve been dismantling fools all over the place, and had a slight hiccup against Manhattan. Do you realize that Louisville is 7-0 SU and 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games overall and have posted a +25.7 average point differential in the process? Russ Smith is one of my favorites in the country and I think that this Louisville team is built a lot like the one that won the national title last year. Something has to be said for the experience of this tightly knit team.
Bonus Sweet Sixteen Best Bets
- Stanford -3.0 vs. Dayton (STAN -3.0)
- Wisconsin -3.5 vs. Baylor (BAY +3.5)
- Florida -4.5 vs. UCLA (FLA -4.5)
- Arizona -6.5 vs. San Diego State (ARI -6.5)
- Michigan -2.0 vs. Tennessee (TEN +2.0)
- Iowa State -1.5 vs. UConn (ISU -1.5)
- Michigan State -1.5 vs. Virginia (MSU -1.5)
But eventually, something also has to be said for talent. Louisville is a great team, but the teams they’ve dealt with to get to where they are aren’t as strong pundits want you to believe. It’s absolutely not their fault, but the Cardinal have never had to deal with a team like Kentucky playing at their peak. Louisville has usually used their size and speed to overwhelm the opposition. Well guess what – Kentucky’s just as fast and just as strong.
Games like this rarely happen in sports. Neither side is a bad bet on paper, but Kentucky clearly has an edge as one of the best bets in the Sweet Sixteen because of that juicy five-point cushion. Either you believe that Kentucky’s recent surge gives them the momentum to take down the defending champions, or you believe that Louisville is unbeatable. I’m betting on the former. You can do whatever you want.
Just remember that Julius Randle now has the confidence he’s lacked at major points in the season. He could very well be the best player left in the whole tournament. If that doesn’t make Kentucky one of the best bets in the Sweet Sixteen and long term, I don’t know what will.
Sweet Sixteen Best Bets – Kentucky +5.0 (UNDER)