Louisville vs Wichita State: Final Four betting odds preview, pick

USA TODAY Sports

Higher seeds almost always win in the Final Four and Louisville almost always covers the spread as a favorite. Does Wichita State stand a chance on the March Madness odds menus?

The Louisville Cardinals came up just short in a quest for a national title last year, losing in the national semifinals to eventual champion Kentucky.

This year, Louisville is back in the mix, after beating up on Duke in the Midwest Regional final last weekend. And they are huge double-digit favorites on the 2013 Final Four odds menus Saturday to take it a step further against the surprising Wichita State Shockers.

If recent history is any indicator of future results, Louisville will win and cover the spread. The Cardinals are 9-1 ATS in their past 10 games as a favorite and higher seeds almost always win at this stage of the tournament.

As a nine seed, WSU knocked off a one (Gonzaga) and a two (Ohio State), among others, on its way to winning the West Regional.

So it's the big-bad Cardinals versus the shocking Shockers in the first of the two NCAA championship tournament national semifinals Saturday at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta (6:05 pm ET, CBS).

Early in the week, most college basketball betting outlets opened their Final Four betting odds with Louisville favored by 10 points over WSU, the OVER/UNDER offered at 130. Most books then bumped the Cardinals to -11, and the total to 131.

Big East champion Louisville (33-5 SU, 23-15 ATS) isn't just riding a 14-game winning streak into the Final Four; it's also 11-3 ATS during that run. Last Sunday against Duke the Cardinals saw sophomore guard Kevin Ware suffer that terrible leg injury late in the first half, then wiped away tears and roared to an 85-63 victory.

Wichita State (30-8 SU, 19-14 ATS), after finishing second in the Missouri Valley Conference, was not expected to make much noise in this NCAA tournament. The Shockers had actually lost three of their previous five games before beginning the Big Dance.

But as a big underdog, they have been dominant over the years. Since 2003, they have been dogs of 8.5 points or more 20 times and they are 13-6-1 ATS in that situation.

But WSU upset Pitt and Gonzaga, then pounded fellow longshot LaSalle to reach the regional final. The Shockers then grabbed a 13-point halftime lead last Saturday versus heavily favored Ohio State, bumped that to 20 midway through the second half and held on for a 70-66 victory.

So Wichita State is playing in the Final Four for the first time since losing to UCLA in a national semifinal back in 1965. WSU is also the first No. 9 seed to make the Final Four since Penn did it back in the year of Magic and Bird, 1979.

On the updated NCAA tournament futures market, as of Tuesday Bovada.lv was listing Louisville at a price of -150 to cut down the nets Monday night in Atlanta, while the upstart Shockers were getting +1200 to win the national title.

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