underlying mismatches heading into the Elite Eight, hoping to give you an
inside edge when handicapping Saturday and Sunday’s NCAA tournament
games. Here are four of the biggest betting mismatches for the regional finals:
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Kentucky Wildcats (-11, 136)
Irish’s short bench vs. Wildcats’ talent surplus
Even when Kentucky wasn’t playing its best this season, it would prevail simply because it had more talent to choose from. So if one of its starters was having an off night, a reserve would step up. John Calipari goes deep – like “fish with lights on their head” deep – down his bench and has eight players averaging more than 20 minutes of floor time per game. It’s like a relentless tide of talent, with wave after wave of 5-star recruit smashing the ball in your face.
Notre Dame doesn’t have quite as deep a talent pool. And by pool, we mean puddle. Mike Brey runs a seven-man rotation with four players racking up 32 or more minutes per game. The Irish not only are outgunned in this matchup but not having a reliable bench to turn to is A: Rough when making adjustments and B: Rough in a tournament format on short rest against a Kentucky team that presses the tempo.
Arizona Wildcats vs. Wisconsin Badgers (+1.5, 133.5)
Wildcats’ so-so shooting vs. Badgers’ battling bigs
All the attention in this NCAA rematch will be on how Arizona’s frontcourt will handle Wisconsin big Frank Kaminsky, who stomped all over the Wildcats with 28 points in last year’s Elite Eight. Arizona has the talent to tie up Frank “The Tank” and made some good adjustments on Xavier’s “Stain Train” Matt Stainbrook in the second half of Thursday’s win. So, with the heavyweights trading blows in the paint, it leaves the game to be decided on the perimeter where Arizona just hasn’t been that great.
The Wildcats have shot 14 for 41 (34 percent) in their last two games, including just 7 for 22 against the Musketeers’ pesky 1-3-1 zone. Arizona doesn’t actually try many from deep, averaging only 5.2 makes from beyond the arc per game – second lowest of all Sweet 16 programs. North Carolina put in work from distance against the Badgers, hitting eight 3-pointers, as did Oregon in their loss to Wisconsin in the Round of 32. Hell, even Coastal Carolina went 7 of 12 from range in the Round of 64. Does Arizona have the chops from downtown to do the same damage?
Check back later for the remaining Elite Eight betting mismatches.