Final Four 2012: Trends Point To Favorites Kentucky, Ohio State To Win

It's difficult to handicap Kansas as an underdog, because it almost never happens.

In four seasons, the Jayhawks have been underdogs in Vegas just nine times total – that’s twice a season in 35-40 games.

So when they face Ohio State as 2.5 point underdogs Saturday on the Final Four odds menu, how will they react? How will sports bettors react?

"You always look for underdog trends and you want to find value where the betting line is out of whack because of public opinion and hype," said Mike Pickett of OddsShark.com.

"But in those nine games over four seasons, they lost seven times."

This battle of No. 2 seeds is a different handicapping wrinkle than the Kentucky vs Louisville game. And because of 1 vs 4 seeding battle and the fact the Wildcats are favored by 8.5 points, some past Final Four trends are in play.

Theory No. 1 - favorites win at this phase of the tournament. True. In the past seven seasons, the chalk is 9-5 ATS.

Theory No. 2 – higher seeds beat lower seeds. True. In the same seven seasons, higher seeds are 9-2 ATS in 11 games against lower seeds. (Three times, like the 2 vs 2 battle between Kansas and OSU, the games pitted the same seeds against each other).

"We like Ohio State to win and cover and they are on a nice little run of 6-2 ATS in eight games overall," said Pickett. "The OVER has also been profitable at 10-1 past 11 Buckeye games."

The Kentucky vs Louisville battle fits both theories, but the hot run by the Cardinals has Vegas buzzing. Louisville has won eight in a row and covered the spread each time, while 10-3 ATS in their past 13 games as underdog.

In looking back, Louisville has been an underdog of this size (+8.5 points) only seven times since 2002 - they are 5-2 ATS in those games.

"In Louisville’s case, they flew under the radar, finished seventh in the Big East and have been winning as an underdog," said Pickett.

Of note for Louisville backers, Big East schools are just 1-4 ATS in their past five trips to the Final Four.

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