The oddsmakers initially installed Arizona as three-point favorites for tonight’s West Regional Final game against the Badgers, and the public has driven the number up to 3.5 at a few off shore sports books. “We opened Arizona -3 and we’ve seen mostly Wisconsin money at that number,” said Michael Stewart of CarbonSports.ag. “After seeing what Wisconsin did to Baylor, we figured the public was going to back the Badgers in this game. So with the early action immediately backing Wisconsin, we went to +3 -115 on them late last night. Early this morning with more money backing Wisconsin, we moved off 3 and went to Arizona -2.5 flat, and that’s the line we’re currently dealing. Bottom line, this Wisconsin team by virtue of last night’s dominating performance, is the hot, public team.”
The technical analysis favors Arizona as head coach Sean Miller is 14-6 SU and 15-4-1 ATS in the NCAA tournament, including 13-1 ATS off a win. During his ten year coaching career with both Xavier and Arizona, Miller has never lost to a worse-seeded team in the NCAA tournament. Let’s also note that Pac-12 teams are 5-1 ATS in the Elite Eight Round of the NCAA tournament, while No. 2 seeds are just 2-10-1 ATS off a double-digit ATS win.
Arizona’s success is built around an outstanding defense that is allowing 58.4 points per game to teams that would combine to average 72.9 points per game, thereby making the Wildcats 14.5 points per game better than average defensively. The Wildcats are 15-4 SU on the road this season where they are yielding just 61.6 points per game on 39.0% shooting from the field, while also limiting opponents to a mere 60.4 points over the last five games (36.7% FG). Overall, Arizona possesses a 7.7 points per game advantage over Wisconsin’s offense, which is 6.8 points per game better than average (73.7 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 66.9 points per game).
However, there may not be a hotter team in the nation from an offensive standpoint than the Badgers, who are averaging an incredible 77.4 points over their last five games, Wisconsin is shooting 49.8% from the field and 40.4% from beyond the arc over that period of time. The Badgers have also improved at the defensive end of the floor where they are limiting opponents to a mere 60.8 points over the last five games (40.1% FG). Overall, Wisconsin is 7.7 points per game better than average defensively this season (63.7 points per game to teams that would combine to average 71.4 points per game).
Arizona is 4.9 points per game better than average offensively (73.1 points per game against teams that would combine to allow 68.2 points per game), which gives the Badgers a 2.8 points per game advantage at the defensive end of the floor tonight. It should be noted that Arizona is shooting 48.9% from the field and 41.0% from three-point territory over its last five games so the Wildcats are certainly capable of penetrating Wisconsin’s defense.
We show a fair line of four points so there is value with Arizona tonight, although it’s difficult to discount Wisconsin’s motivation to get Bo Ryan to his first Final Four in his coaching career.