In what could be the best remaining March Madness betting affair of the entire tournament, conference champs collide in the Elite 8 when the #1 Kentucky Wildcats and #2 West Virginia Mountaineers face off at the Carrier Dome on Saturday night.
What's At Stake: The winner of this clash will join the three other bracket champions next Saturday in Indianapolis for the Final Four and will face the winner of the Duke/Baylor matchup.
College Basketball Odds: Kentucky -4 at BetUS
West Virginia Notes: It doesn't seem like the loss of G Darryl Bryant really hurt the Mountaineers any in the Sweet 16 against Washington. They still have the ability to totally dominated on the boards, winning the rebounding battle by almost seven rebounds per night. West Virginia has a decent offense at 72.8 points per game, but its strength has really been on the defensive end of the court. The 'Neers have held six straight foes under 60 points, averaging allowing just 54.2 points per game in that run.
Kentucky Notes: The Wildcats haven't exactly had the toughest road to the Elite 8, as they have only played a #9, #12, and #16 seed, but they've clearly been the most dominant side in the field, winning those three by an average of more than 25 points per game. Big Blue has a stellar offense at 79.6 points per game, and its 48.3 percent shooting percentage is amongst the best teams left standing in the field. However, it was the defense, which held Cornell to just 33.3 percent shooting on Thursday that really made the difference in Kentucky's road to the Elite 8.
Players to Watch
F Da'Sean Butler, West Virginia Mountaineers: Even when West Virginia is at its worst offensively, Butler seems to always be able to step up and come up in a big way. He's clearly got a flare for the dramatics having hit game winning shots in two of the 'Neers three Big East Tournament games, including the one that sealed up the championship. At 17.4 points per game, no one for HC Bob Huggins is scoring more.
G John Wall, Kentucky Wildcats: This was supposed to be the three week event that solidified Wall as the #1 pick in next year's NBA Draft. However, relatively speaking, the freshman phenom has put up three total dud games, scoring a total of just 39 points in three tournament tussles. Wall can take a game over like no other point guard in the country can, and it's high time that he steps up and makes himself a hero in Kentucky lore forever with a major triple-double type of performance.
Trends of Note
-West Virginia is 4-0-1 ATS in its L/5 NCAA Tournament games as an underdog
-West Virginia is 11-2-1 ATS in its L/14 NCAA Tournament games
-West Virginia is 6-2 ATS in its L/8 games against teams with winning percentage of at least .600
-Kentucky is 6-0 ATS in its L/6 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite
-Kentucky is 13-3-1 ATS in its L/17 games against the Big East
-Kentucky is 6-2 ATS in its L/8 NCAA Tournament games
-Kentucky holds a 2-0 SU and ATS advantage in this series since 2005
Final Analysis: This is a bit of a hefty line for an Elite 8 betting contest, but the Wildcats are hard to ignore in this one. They've clearly got a team that is on a mission right now, and what's scary is that they clearly haven't played their best possible basketball. It's going to come at some point, and we think that West Virginia is going to be the poor sacrificial lamb subjected to the wrath of Big Blue.
Selection: Kentucky -4