Sunday Bullets Because There is Just So Much to Discuss

Calipari
Calipari
Love him or hate him, seeing John Calipari's unbeaten Wildcats play unbeaten Virginia in the NCAA Final would be amazing.

I’m not doing it…. Nope. I’m not stating off this late January Sunday with yet another take on that issue I’ve spent so much time talking about this week. “What issue? you ask? You know? That one coming from that place in the Northeast where there has been a never-ending flow of information about “balls….”

Ya, I’ll get to “Deflate-Gate” shortly but there’s other things to touch on first.

-I realize this is probably nothing more than a pipe dream, but can you imagine if Kentucky and Virginia were to meet in the National Championship Game and both were unbeaten? It would be Defcon Five for the folks at ESPN. I’m not sure it’s going to come to that because there’s a long way to go but I can’t help but think of the spectacle it would be.

Manny
We can only hope that Manny Pacquiao gets his wish to fight Floyd Mayweather this spring.

-I miss boxing. I find mixed martial arts to be entertaining but to me, nothing will ever beat two men squaring off in a back and forth duel in the squared circle. That said, I really hope they find a way to get Floyd Mayweather, Jr and Manny Pacquiao in the ring this spring. Granted, it won’t be the match we should have had a few years back, but it would still be great for the sport. What would be even better is if they could find a way to get it on mainstream television. (cough, cough)

-Here’s my only comments on the Patriots. First, I think it’s great the Pats have completed their own internal investigation and have concluded they did nothing wrong. This is laughable. It’s like Chewbacca launching his own investigation to see where all the hair in his seat on the Millennium Falcon came from. Lastly, why did Bill Belichick feel it necessary to even call the presser yesterday? We learned nothing other than he likes “My Cousin Vinny.”

-A quick 180 from Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge who decided yesterday to put off surgery on his hand. Aldridge was looking at six to eight weeks of in-action had he gone through the surgery. For right now though, he has decided to keep playing. This will be interesting from the standpoint of just how much can he tolerate in terms of pain and discomfort.

-R.I.P Ernie Banks. The most famous and greatest Chicago Cub of them all died yesterday. Not only was he the very first African-American player for the North siders, but he was a two-time MVP, hit over 500 home runs and is in the Hall of Fame. Perhaps the best thing that can be said about him though is nothing about it his playing. But rather, it was about him as a person.

-Tonight of course is the Pro Bowl. It’s what I like to call the “hold your breath so your team’s players don’t get hurt” bowl. Every time this game rolls around I can’t help but think of the Patriots’ running back Robert Edwards. He was playing in a rookie, beach football game and blew his knee out. After an amazing first year, he was never the same.

-If you don’t have a dog in the fight tonight, the Pro Bowl is a great way to have some fun with prop bets. Things like who scores the first touchdown, the most touchdowns or who the first player on the sidelines is to use the word “deflate.”

-Easy for me to say, but I think Father Time is trying to tell Kobe Bryant something. I also think it’s something that LeBron James should pay attention too as well. Both of these players entered the NBA out of high school and those extra miles on their bodies are far more grueling than if they had gone to college. With his rotator cuff injury, I think the end is near.

Two Top 10 Teams Face Tough Conference Games on the Road

A championship caliber college basketball team can win on the road when they are supposed to. On Saturday, two teams in the AP top-10 will face tough road tests when the No. 6 ranked Wisconsin Badgers visit the Michigan Wolverines in a Big 10 showdown and the No. 7 ranked Arizona Wildcats visit California in a Pac-12 showdown.

Wisconsin is favored by 10.5 points in its game. The Badgers are 5-1 in conference play, but the only loss was to Rutgers almost two weeks ago, as a road favorite by 15 points.

Wisconsin is 2-3-1 ATS in Big 10 action and the total has cashed to the OVER in 4 of the 6.

Frank Kaminsky is the leading scorer for the Badgers. The 7-footer is scoring just under 17 points a game, while the team is averaging almost 74 per game.

Michigan is coming off a win of 54-50 over Rutgers as a road dog by 2.5 points.

The Wolverines are 5-2 SU and 4-3 ATS in Big Ten play.

Michigan overall is 12-7 SU and 6-12 ATS, with the total cashing to the UNDER in 11 of 17.

Wisconsin is 3-7-1 against the number in their past 11 Big Ten games. However, Wisconsin is 9-4-1 against the spread over their past 14 games after a win straight up.

The point total has cashed on the OVER in 8 of their past 10 games versus conference opponents.

Michigan is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 games at home and 4-10 against the number in its past 14 games overall. The total has cashed on the UNDER in five of Michigan’s past six games played at home.

Head to head between Michigan and Wisconsin, the team at home has covered the number in five of the past seven games overall. The UNDER has cashed in the past four games between the two played at Michigan.

Out west, No. 7 ranked Arizona plays at California. Arizona is favored by 11.5 points.

Arizona won its last outing 89-82 over Stanford as a road favorite of 3.5 points. It was the Wildcats fifth win in its six conference games.

The only loss in the conference was to Oregon State 58-56, as a road favorite of 10 points.

In Pac-12 play, Arizona is 4-2 against the number. In four of the six conference games, the total has cashed UNDER.

California is 4-17 ATS in its past 21 conference games. The Golden Bears have not covered in five of their past six games played at home.

The total has cashed OVER in 18 of California’s past 24 games against teams with a winning straight up record.

Sunday Bullets On a Variety of Topics

Gronkowski
Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski's big day helped the Pats rally to beat the Ravens.

Once again my ADD has set in and I can’t focus on just one or two or even three specific items for the blog this Sunday morning so once again I firing some bullets your way in an effort to cover numerous thoughts in my mind.

-Tom Brady and the Patriots were staring yet another loss at home in the playoffs to the Baltimore Ravens. Down 14-0 and then 28-14, the Patriots rallied and finally took their first and only lead of the game with five minutes to go to win 35-31. Ravens’ QB Joe Flacco who had been so unflappable in the playoffs threw two crucial interceptions to allow the Pats’ comeback.  New England will play the winner of today’s game between Indianapolis and Denver in the AFC Championship game next Sunday.

-Is it just me or are more NBA stars missing games at a higher rate than ever before? We know how the San Antonio Spurs operate and who can argue? Resting their aging stars has paid dividends but now we see even more teams doing the same thing. While LeBron James is on his two-week rest due to his knee and back, there are rumors that he was convinced to take the time off to rest period. Maybe it’s just me but I don’t remember so many stars missing so many games in the 1980s’.

Wilson
Rusell Wilson accounted for three TDs as the Seahawks beat the Panthers.

-In Seattle, the Seahawks relied on three Carolina turnovers and a couple of big plays en route to a 31-17 win. While I thought Seattle would cover, I didn’t expect to the Panthers out-gain the Seahawks and hold the ball considerably longer. Regardless, the Seahawks are into the NFC Title Game and will await either the Dallas Cowboys or Green Bay Packers next week.

-Ravens’ Coach John Harbaugh was steamed after the game because of a formation the Patriots used three times. In it, the Pats only had four offensive linemen and six eligible receivers. One of those players reported as “ineligible” and was not involved in the play other than to block. Harbaugh claims this is illegal and was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for running onto the field to argue it. He claimed his players didn’t have time to determine who was eligible and who wasn’t. I’ll be checking the rule book today.

-The Major League Baseball hot stove was burning hot this fall but has since cooled dramatically. Oddly enough the most sought-after free agent is still unsigned. Right-hander Max Scherzer is still a man without a team. It was thought he would never be able to return to Detroit simply because the money he wanted would be too much. Maybe not… The latest rumors I’m hearing are that Scherzer has narrowed his choices between the Tigers and his hometown St. Louis Cardinals. Stay tuned.

-The NFL Regular Season officially ended December 28th but a few players have wasted little time in getting in trouble with the law. Saints’ LB Junior Galette was arrested for domestic violence while Vikings’ DB Jabari Price was arrested for a DWI. Then yesterday, the Jets’ Chris Johnson was arrested for having a registered firearm out in the open when he was stopped for a traffic violation. There will sadly be more of these as the offseason comes.

-There has been substantial talk this season about John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats going unbeaten for the entire 2014-2015 season but in the last week the Wildcats are finding out just how tough it will be. Yesterday they defeated Texas A&M in two overtimes while earlier in the week they survived Ole Miss winning by three points. Calipari says his team isn’t very good right now and perhaps he’s right.

 

 

College Basketball Rankings Will Be Affected by Conference Play

The NCAA basketball tournament might be over two months away, but with conference play underway the contenders will face tough competition and the rankings could be quickly shuffled each week.

With conference play now fully underway, the true contenders will begin to separate from the rest of the pack.

No one doubts the Kentucky Wildcats are the best at this point. On Bovada and betonline, the Wildcats are 4 to 5 to win the national championship. Duke at 8 to 1 and Wisconsin at 10 to 1 are also legitimate contenders for the national title, but conference play presents night after night of tough competition not seen when playing a non conference schedule to start the season.

Many people are wondering if the tough games each night will be enough to knock Kentucky off the top. The Wildcats enter SEC play at 13-0. Kentucky is coming off another big win of 58-50 on the road at Louisville. Of course, some see that the win was only single digits, but a team cannot play at such a level game in and game out that allows them double-digits routs each game.

There are some strong teams the Wildcats will face in SEC play, but only one ranked opponent remains on Kentucky’s schedule. They will play Arkansas, which is now ranked No. 23, on February 28 at home.

A great deal will change between now and the end of February, but the seemingly soft Kentucky schedule provides an idea of how attainable an undefeated regular season is for the Wildcats under the tutelage of John Calipari.

Kentucky is not favored to end the season unbeaten, though some sites such as topbet and sportsbook.com are offering a prop of will Kentucky go unbeaten with the yes price currently at +400 and the no priced at -500.

The ACC schedule is so strong it preempts any talk of Duke remaining undefeated, even though the team has looked as strong and as confident as Kentucky at different times during the season.

Duke must face seven opponents that are ranked including St. John’s a non-ACC opponent.

The toughest on the schedule appears to be visits to both Virginia and Louisville, not to mention home and home games with Notre Dame, Syracuse, and North Carolina.

Wisconsin’s road is similar to both Kentucky and Duke’s. The schedule in the Big 10 gives only two ranked opponents for the Badgers to play, but other teams that are not ranked will step up their game during conference play.

NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP FUTURES
KENTUCKY WILDCATS 4 to 5
DUKE BLUE DEVILS 8 to 1
WISCONSIN BADGERS 10 to 1
ARIZONA WILDCATS 12 to 1
GONZAGA BULLDOGS 12 to 1
TEXAS LONGHORNS 15 to 1
VIRGINIA CAVALIERS 20 to 1
LOUISVILLE CARDINALS 25 to 1
NORTH CAROLINA TAR HEELS 30 to 1
KANSAS JAYHAWKS 30 to 1

Christmas Wishes for Your Favorite Athletes and Teams

Woods
Woods
Maybe my Christmas wish will come true and Tiger will actually just admit he played poorly for once.

First of all, Merry Christmas to everyone! Hope your day is filled with all kinds of good food, family and fun. Today I’m giving you some Christmas wishes for any number of teams and athletes.

My Christmas wish is…

for Tony Romo to get at least one playoff win.

for Michigan to land a head football coach who wants to be there.

for Roger Goodell to resign.

for ESPN to cancel First Take and no longer allow Stephen A Smith and Skip Bayless on television.

for you to win every bet, on every game this coming year. (giggles a bit)

for Tiger Woods to walk off the course just one time and say, “I played like crap” rather than blame it on everything else.

for the Kansas City Royals not to be one-hit wonders.

for college football to immediately move to an eight-game playoff.

for high school athletes to enjoy being “high school athletes” and not be forced to specialize by club sports.

for ‘Mike and Mike’ to use more of my tweets.

for the National Basketball Association to become interesting again.

for Coach K to get one more title before he hangs up the whistle.

for soccer to go back to being a world sport and not an American one.

for Marshawn Lynch to actually give a decent interview after a game.

for Steelers’ Coach Mike Tomlin to drop a few of his cliches.

for MMQB’s Peter King to finally admit he’s just a shill for the NFL.

O'Bannon
Thanks Ed O'Bannon for ruining my family's favorite video game!

for the NCAA and EA Sports to find a way get the NCAA Football video game back for us.

for NFL people stop using the word “elite” when it comes to quarterbacks.

for Antonio Brown to go up against Richard Sherman in the Super Bowl.

for Peter Edward Rose to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

for all of us to just admit that college football and basketball is nothing more than a minor league for the pros.

for Mike Emrick to call every game in every sport for the rest of his life.

to never see another pro athlete charged with domestic violence.

for the Super Bowl to be a national holiday and everyone gets the next day off.

for the Atlanta Hawks to the NBA Title.

for the Detroit Tigers to win a World Series before owner Mike Ilitch dies. No one has been more important to Detroit sports than he has.

for group celebrations to be allowed after NFL touchdowns.

for a “Gretzky-like” figure to reappear in the National Hockey League.

for the Cleveland Cavaliers to lose in the NBA Finals. Let’s face it; it makes for more interesting sports talk.

for the Lakers and Celtics to continue being irrelevant.

for defensive backs so they can actually play defense again.

for Jerry Jones’ plastic surgeon who must be tired of seeing him walk through the door.

for Larry Fitzgerald to get a Super Bowl title before he retires.

for Al Michaels to narrate my life.

for someone in a Santa suit today at an NBA game to do something ridiculous.

for officials at all levels and in all sports to remember it isn’t about them, it’s about the game.

for Oregon to settle on a uniform or 50.

for Devon Still’s daughter to make a complete recovery.

for karma to show up at Jameis Winston’s door.

for the NFL Playoffs to be as great as ever.

for your favorite teams to do as well as they can!

Today’s Saturday Sports Bullets

Kershaw
Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw pulled off a double with his Cy Young and MVP wins.

Saturday has again rolled up on me and with so many things to discuss I figure it’s time to throw some more bullets your way with a variety of thoughts from around the sports’ world.

College basketball tips off this weekend so I know all of you are dying for my Final Four selections. Here goes; Kentucky, Arizona, Wisconsin, Wichita State
No surprises in the baseball voting with Clayton Kershaw grabbing both the NL Cy Young Award and the MVP. Mike Trout was the easy winner of the AL MVP as well. I have no issue with pitcher winning MVP. If he’s the most dominant guy on the field then so be it.

I have to wonder what Florida Gator fans are thinking. Will Muschamp is going to get this team to a bowl game. Even if they lose to South Carolina today and Florida State in the finale, they’re going to beat Eastern Kentucky which will give them six wins. Is this what Gators’ fans want?

Brady Hoke’s future is in the same boat. The team needs to beat either Maryland or Ohio State to get to a bowl game. Either way the only way Hoke’s job is saved is through a win at Ohio State and then a bowl win. Those things are unlikely to happen.

I think the Chicago Bulls have a serious problem with Derrick Rose. There’s no way he should be talking about his “after basketball life” the way he is. Then Thursday night he comes up lame again with a hamstring pull. I can’t see the Bulls wanting to invest another dime in him. After all, this is the city where Michael Jordan would have run through brick walls to beat the Washington Bullets.

Kobe Bryant made one of 14 field goal attempts last night in a loss to San Antonio. It was kind of a fitting scene as Bryant and Tim Duncan chatted a few times during the game. Duncan had another double-double going for 13 points and 11 boards. I applaud Bryant for coming back from his injuries but I really don’t know that he is helping the Lakers.

The NBA announced this week that when teams play on Christmas their jerseys will feature the players’ first names rather than their last. Not real sure why but OK.

Drebin
You would think Frank Drebin is running things in Tallahassee the way they do business.

I’m paraphrasing a bit here but I loved the tweet from Fox Sports’ College Football Writer Stewart Mandel who wondered if the people of Tallahassee wouldn’t be safer in the hands of Frank Drebin. I couldn’t agree more. This is of course in response to the constant blundering of the Tallahassee Police Department when it comes to Jameis Winston and Florida State.

There are some great games on tap for the National Football League tomorrow. The Eagles play at Green Bay where the tundra is expected to be frozen a bit early this year. The Patriots play in Indianapolis and this game could go a long way towards securing home-field advantage. Two of the best teams in the NFL face off in Arizona where the Cardinals host the Lions. Unless you have the NFL Sunday Ticket, you’ll most likely be out of luck. Only about 19% of the nation will get this game.

Obviously there are some great college football games on tap today but I want to focus a Big 12 game for a second. Oklahoma will face Texas Tech today without QB Travis Knight. The Sooners were ranked number one in many preseason polls and now have three losses, two of which came at home. Don’t be a bit surprised if Bob Stoops is suddenly on the hot seat. Yes he wins games, but this is a “what have you done for me lately” market place. Alumni aren’t thrilled about losing to Kansas State and Baylor in Norman.

 

 

Odds Makers Post Futures for 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship

The betting world stops for no one and for the most part never even slows down. Just ask the Connecticut Huskies. The Huskies won the NCAA men’s basketball National Championship on Monday night over Kentucky.

Before the sun sat 24 hours later, odds makers at Bovada, sportsbook.com, betonline and topbet all had their odds posted for next season’s 2015 NCAA Tournament champion.

Odds makers do not let champions have their time in the sun too long before posting the futures for the next season. At the top of the list released on Tuesday for next season is the Arizona Wildcats. The Wildcats are currently at 6 to 1 to win the national title in 2015.

There is the possibility that Arizona will lose a number of its stars as they opt for the NBA draft, but Sean Miller the team’s head coach has had a very successful recruiting season, which will reload the roster if players do in fact opt for the NBA. You can expect a huge amount of new talent lacing up their sneakers for Arizona this fall.

Placing second in the futures was Duke, which is 7 to 1 to win the national championship. Other books have Duke no higher than fifth in the futures. Duke has been a perennial top ten pick for the past two decades or longer.

Following Duke there is a tie between three teams at 12 to 1 – Wisconsin, Kansas and Kentucky – are all tied for third. Other sites have Kentucky as high as No. 2, Wisconsin lower at No. 4 and Kansas as low as No. 6.

The North Carolina Tar Heels and Florida Gators are next up at 15 to 1 to win the national title in 2015.

In what must feel like a slap in the face, the current national champions, who have held the trophy for no more than 72 hours, are ranked way down the line at 75 to 1 to repeat.

Over the coming weeks, the odds will both shorten and lengthen for many of the teams on the list as they all are in danger of losing a player or more to the NBA as many underclassmen are now opting to play one year and at times two before declaring for the NBA draft.

In 2015, the Final Four will take place in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Stadium home of the Indianapolis Colts NFL franchise.

Odds to win 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship

Arizona Wildcats 6 to 1

Duke Blue Devils 7 to 1

Kansas Jayhawks 12-1

Wisconsin Badgers 12-1

Kentucky Wildcats 12 to 1

Florida Gators 15 to 1

North Carolina Tar Heels 15 to 1

Wichita State Shockers 20 to 1

Villanova Wildcats 25 to 1

Louisville Cardinals 30 to 1

Indiana Pacers Odds Double on NBA Title Futures

The Indiana Pacers must feel like their season is falling apart around them as they continue to lose games heading towards the postseason. In a week’s time, the Pacers odds of winning the NBA Championship on Bovada and sportsbooks.com have doubled.

Indiana on the season is 53-25 straight up and 35-42-1 against the spread. During the majority of the season, the Pacers looked to be the NBA’s best team as they started the season 25-5 SU before the start of the New Year.

Indiana at one time was 40-12, but since then has gone 13-13 after being the lone favorite on betonline and topbet to win the NBA Championship.

Since early March, the team is just 7-12 with poor play on both the offensive and defensive ends causing them problems. The pre-All Star break record in offensive efficiency has dropped from 102 points per 100 possessions to just 99. On defense, the same result with their rating climbing to 101 from 93.

The recent struggles the Pacers have encountered has caused online bookmakers such as Bovada to double the championship odds for Indiana from last week’s 3 to 1 to this week’s 6 to 1.

The Pacers’ odds to take the top spot in the Eastern Conference were doubled as well to 2 to 1 from even-money.

Over their past 10 games, the Pacers are 3-7 SU and 1-9 ATS. During the 10 games, the Pacers have lost two at home, where prior to this poor form they were close to unbeatable on their home court.

What is the most alarming is the two losses suffered at home were both blowouts losing 103-77 to San Antonio and 107-88 to Atlanta. Prior to the blowout loss to San Antonio, Indiana’s had won 33 of 37 home games.

From the perspective of the bettor, the doubled price for Indiana could be a pleasant sight. Even going back to the playoffs from last season, Indiana looked like a club that could contend for an NBA Title.

If bettors believe they are just going through a dry spell and can shake it off when the postseason arrives, then the present times has the Pacers at the best value since prices pre and during the early season were much shorter.

However, with the way the team is currently playing, they might not make it out of the first round against Charlotte.

Top 10 to Win 2014 NBA Title

Miami Heat 8 to 5

San Antonio Spurs 5 to 2

Oklahoma City Thunder 3 to 1

Indiana Pacers 6 to 1

Los Angeles Clippers 12 to 1

Houston Rockets 20 to 1

Golden State Warriors 30 to 1

Chicago Bulls 40 to 1

Portland Trail Blazers 40 to 1

Toronto Raptors 40 to 1

Pro, College Basketball in My Sights Today

Hibbert
Hibbert
Roy Hibbert's face says it all. The Pacers are struggling right now.

Basketball as we know can be a funny game. It can go in favor of one team for the longest of times and then with just one shot the fortunes can turn on a dime. It isn’t that way for just a game though because over the course of a long season fortunes can change drastically as well. Just ask the Indiana Pacers.

It wasn’t long ago that the Pacers were ahead of the Miami Heat by two or three games and now they are looking up at the Heat in Eastern Conference standings. Losers of seven of their last ten and two straight, the Pacers are facing the prospect of once again having to go to Miami in a potential game seven should the two teams meet.

The bigger problem right now is that who knows if Indiana will even make it to a potential conference finals’ match-up with Miami? Big man Roy Hibbert was benched during yesterday’s game and he’s been one of the more outspoken players during this recent slump.

Defense has never been an issue for the Pacers but now they are suddenly showing some serious dents in that part of their armor. Combine that with a severely slumping offense and you’ve got yourself a pretty bad stretch.

Right now, I have doubts that the Pacers’ team as it exists right now will be able to get past Chicago or Brooklyn let alone Miami. To say Head Coach Frank Vogel has his work cut out for him would be an understatement right now.

Auriemma
I expect to see Geno Auriemma doing this again tomorrow night.

Battle of the Unbeatens in Women’s’ Basketball

The game that anyone associated with women’s’ college basketball anticipated is finally here. 39-0 UConn takes on 37-0 Notre Dame for the national championship tomorrow night.

In an era when many people hate all of the conference realignments, this is a situation where we can thank the realignment people. It wasn’t long ago at all when both of these teams were members of the Big East and would have played each other during the regular season and probably in the conference tournament as well.

Now, UConn is in the American Athletic Conference while the Irish are in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Both teams obviously went through their respective conference schedules without a blemish and did the same in the NCAA Tournament so here we are.

Notre Dame scores about four more points per game than does UConn but the real story is on defense. UConn is the top-ranked team in women’s’ basketball. They give up just 47 points per game while the Irish surrender just shy of 61 points per game.

We can perhaps point to level of competition in that stat because Notre Dame does play a little bit tougher conference schedule but that is a huge discrepancy. I think you’ll see a close game early but I expect the Lady Huskies to pull away late and win yet another title.

The Men’s game takes center stage tonight

If you saw my piece yesterday then you know I like the UConn men to get the points and win the national title. My thinking hasn’t changed much over the last 24 hours. Kevin Ollie may have only coached in five NCAA Tournament games but he has total control of this Huskies’ team. They took punches against Michigan State and Florida and yet survived by nailing their free throws and forcing the offenses to do things they just didn’t want to do.

Kentucky is loaded with NBA talent and if they won I wouldn’t be surprised one bit but this UConn team just seems to have all of the right cards to play and Ollie seems to know when exactly to play them.

Final Four: Kentucky Short Chalk Against Wisconsin

The NCAA Tournament’s Final Four tips off on Saturday with two national semifinal games. One of those matchups features the experience of the Wisconsin Badgers versus the youth and raw talent of the Kentucky Wildcats.

Kentucky has finally received the respect of odds makers despite being seeded No. 8 in the tournament. Currently on Bovada and topbet, the Wildcats are a short favorite over the Badgers who are a No. 2 seed.

Kentucky will start five freshmen and Wisconsin will have four upperclassmen starting on the court as well as Sam Dekker a sophomore.

Rebounding could be the key to the outcome of the game with Kentucky having a plus-10 margin during the tournament.

The current line on betonline and sportsbook.com has Kentucky favored on 1.5 points with the over/under point total sitting on 139.5.

Last Sunday when the line opened, the Wildcats were -2 but the majority of books, including Bovada have adjusted that and it has been 1.5 since midweek.

The teams have played just four games head to head with Kentucky leading the series 3-1. The two have not played since the Sweet 16 in 2003, when Kentucky won 63-57, but did not cover as a favorite by 11 points.

This is Kentucky’s third trip to the Final Four in the last four years. The Wildcats won the national championship in 2012 with a starting lineup of two sophomores and three freshmen. There are just three players, who are seldom used, that remain from that national title team.

Wisconsin was in the Final Four the last time in 2000, The Badgers lost to Michigan State that year 53-41.

Wisconsin is 4-0 against the spread during this year’s tournament and 7-1 against the number over their past 8 games played in the NCAA Tournament.

The UNDER has cashed in 3 of the 4 Wisconsin games in this tournament with Wisconsin averaging 71 points on offense and allowing 55 on defense during regulation.

Kentucky has covered the spread in each of its past 7 games played.

The OVER has cashed in the past three games for Kentucky. The Wildcats are scoring 76 points per game and allowing 72 per game over that stretch.

The size difference Kentucky has over Wisconsin at the guard and wing spots could be a big difference in the game’s outcome. The three should be able to shot easily over their Wisconsin opponents.

Julius Randle the talented freshmen power forward will be crucial for Kentucky. He has averaged double digits in rebounds in all of the tournament games and should have a decided advantage over Dekker down low.

Kentucky defeated three of the four Final Four teams from last season on their road to this season’s Final Four. However, this is a disciplined Badgers team that is well coached and handles the pressure well with few turnovers.

Some odds makers say Kentucky is undervalued and should be at -3 of even -4 in this game.

Pick: Kentucky 78-69 and the OVER