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NCAA Tournament Sweet 16: South Regional Betting Preview

Kansas State Wildcats(24-11) @ Kentucky Wildcats(26-10)

  • Where: Philips Arena. Atlanta, Georgia
  • When: March 22, 2018 7:07 pm EST
  • Spread: Kansas State (+6) vs Kentucky (-6) / Nevada (-2) vs Loyola Chicago (+2)
  • Moneyline: Kentucky (-115), Nevada (+350), Kansas State (+450), Loyola Chicago (+550)

The NCAA Tournament has been filled with upsets in 2018. But in no March Madness bracket has the prevalence of underdogs made waves like in the South.

Virginia, Tennessee, Cincinnati and Arizona have been eliminated. Kentucky is the only semi-favorite left standing…and the Wildcats are a 5th seed. John Calipari’s diaper dandies beat Davidson only 78-73 in the Round of 64, which might have counted as yet another surprise. UK did not sink a 3-pointer in either half.

But the young, athletic ‘Cats woke up in the 2nd round with an impressive lopsided win over the upstart Buffalo Bulls. Hamidou Diallo scored 27 points, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had a big night on the glass.

Meanwhile, everyone else was losing. Kentucky probably can’t believe its good fortune to be paired with K-State and either Nevada or Loyola Chicago in the Sweet 16.

There’s a catch though – UK shot 51% from the field against Davidson and 56% from the field against Buffalo. Is that pace sustainable? What happens if there are fewer quality looks in the battles to come?

Sweet 16: Kentucky (-6) vs Kansas State

Kansas State beat America’s sweetheart over the weekend when the Wildcats out-lasted 16th seed University of Maryland-Baltimore and won 50-43. As the score indicates, it was a grudging, defense-oriented contest with poor shooting on both sides.

Wildcat guard Barry Brown had a game-high 18 points while making 8 out of 8 free-throw attempts. KSU also beat Round of 64 opponent Creighton 69-59.

UK, meanwhile, warmed up from 3-point range against Buffalo, going 7-of-15 from beyond the arc. The team’s shooting percentage is never going to be stellar over the long haul, but the squad has the size and speed to generate easy points in transition.

The kids from Manhattan may not be able to score enough to beat Kentucky. But there’s no question UK’s 3-point accuracy may go back down against a more-athletic Big 12 team. There is no clear value in the ML or point spread, but we’re liking the under (138 total points) as plus-50% shooting percentages tend to inflate the O/U line for the next game.

March Madness: Nevada vs Loyola-Chicago Betting Preview

The Nevada Wolf Pack was prematurely scratched-out of a few brackets when they fell behind by 22 in the 2nd half against Cincinnati. Forward Cody Martin shined with a game-high 25 points, but the real heroes were the Nevada guards.

The Mountain West squad only committed 2 turnovers in the entire game, highly impressive under the circumstances.

The ‘Pack could be considered a tired, emotionally-spent group after the dramatic Round of 32 conquest. But if they’re exhausted, consider what Loyola Chicago has gone through. The Ramblers are another low seed with a big heart, and have given the 2018 its most adorable off-court story with the spirited fandom of wheelchair-bound Sister Jean.

But there’s been nothing cute, sweet or funny about the fierce battles on the court. Loyola needed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from sharp-shooter Donte Ingram to beat Miami in the opening game, then somehow eliminated the Tennessee Volunteers – who MSB touted as a Final Four contender – 63-62.

Each team will play small-ball. Nevada’s roster includes many guards, few forwards and no true center. Loyola has a similar lack of big men. However, the Ramblers should relish the opportunity to quicken the pace against the least-talented defending team they have played.

Nevada can’t stay perfect passing the ball forever, and this tournament has shown that every squad’s execution will suffer its ups and downs. If the game in Atlanta is sloppy, cannon-balls like 6’5, 240 lb senior Aundre Jackson could prove to be hard for the Wolf Pack to cover, drawing fouls in the paint and tipping the scales toward Loyola.

Sweet 16 South Regional Betting: Final Four Pick

Click here to bet on the Loyola-Chicago Ramblers (+550) to reach the 2018 Final Four and get a sign-up bonus from Bovada Sportsbook.

Kentucky is most-likely to win the next 2 games and advance to the Final Four. Assuming the Wildcats can get past a tough but slightly-inferior Power 5 opponent in the Sweet 16, Calipari’s team will athletically out-reach either of 2 possible Elite Eight foes.

But the handicapper’s job is not to predict who will win. Rather, our goal is to find the best bet on the board.

The remaining bracket of 4 in the South is unpredictable. Sure, Kentucky has to be the favorite – and is. But everyone knows how inconsistent the ’17-’18 Wildcats have been. Furthermore, Kansas State is grateful to have avoided Virginia. Nevada has played its very best and still barely made it to the 3rd game.

Loyola is a question mark too, but the Ramblers have something besides a hot bench, a winnable Sweet 16 match-up and a media-darling #1 fan. They’ve got the best futures odds. At (+550), a $10 bet pays off at $55 bucks on the winner.

If the Elite Eight includes a tilt between athletic Kentucky and emotional, clergy-favored Loyola, sure, the Wildcats win 7 or 8 out of 10 times. But that % likelihood still means the 5-to-1 bettor has the advantage.

Score a futures win on UK, if you can, and make less than you wagered. Score a hit on Loyola Chicago reaching the Final Four, and take home a well-deserved jackpot after one of the wildest 2 weeks of postseason play in recent memory.

Kurt BoyerThis article was written by Kurt Boyer

A freelance sportswriter from Missouri, Kurt has covered court, gridiron, rink and ring for 10+ years. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.


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