The 2015 NCAA Tournament kicks off in earnest on Thursday with solid representation from the Southeast Conference. Five SEC squads will hit the court in the Round of 64, starting with the No. 11 Ole Miss Rebels, who take on the No. 6 Xavier Musketeers as two-point underdogs in March Madness betting at the online sportsbooks.
The Rebels surprised many on Tuesday night, earning a berth in the Round of 64 with a solid 94-90 win over the BYU Cougars, claiming the outright victory as even as three point underdogs.
The win halted a two-game SU losing streak for Ole Miss and marked just their second ATS victory in their last seven contests. Conversely, the Musketeers are looking to bounce back from a 69-52 loss to the top-seeded Villanova Wildcats in the Big East Tournament final, failing to cover as 7.5-point underdogs.
The loss ended Xavier's three-game SU win streak, while recording just their second ATS loss as underdogs in their last seven outings. Overall, the Musketeers have struggled in recent outings as favorites, going 3-6 ATS in their last nine, but remain a solid 6-3 SU.
The No. 9 LSU Tigers also open their NCAA Tournament on Thursday, taking on the North Carolina State Wolfpack as 2.5-point underdogs as sportsbooks available through bettingsports.com.
The Tigers, who sport distant 100/1 odds of emerging as national champions in March Madness futures betting, return to the Big Dance for the first time since 2009. The squad earned a berth with a strong 4-1 SU stretch to wrap up their regular season at 22-10, 11-7 in conference play.
LSU faces a Wolfpack team that has caught fire in recent weeks, winning six of seven SU to climb up the ACC standings and earn a berth in the ACC Tournament final where they were routed 77-53 by Duke.
Also on Thursday night, the No. 1 Kentucky Wildcats continue their march towards an undefeated season and national championship when they take on the No. 16 Hampton Pirates as heavy 34-point favorites.
Hampton returns to the NCAA Tournament following a four-year absence, and are looking for their first March Madness SU win since knocking off Iowa State in the first round of the 2001 tourney.
But the Pirates have delighted sports bettors in recent outings, posting four straight SU and ATS wins while pegged as betting underdogs, including a convincing 74-64 win over Manhattan in this week's First Four matchup.
The Wildcats ride a 34-game SU win streak into the Round of 64, and are heavy 1/1 betting favorites to become the first undefeated team to win the national championship since the 1976 Indiana Hoosiers. But while UK has dominated the win column this season, they are a middling 6-5-2 ATS when pegged as favorites by more than 20 points.
The No. 5 Arkansas Razorbacks will look to avoid the upset when they take on the No. 12 Wofford Terriers as 7.5-point favorites in March Madness betting at sportsbooks available through bettingsports.com.
The Razorbacks, who sit at 200/1 in national championship betting, are a mediocre 3-3 SU and ATS in their last six after winning nine of 10, propelling them into second place in the SEC standings.
But Arkansas has been a betting disappointment in recent weeks, posting just three ATS wins in their last nine games, while averaging just 61.5 points per game in their last two.
The Terriers are making their fourth March Madness appearance in six years, and will look to continue the trend in the last two years of Round of 64 upset wins by No. 12 seeds. Wofford hits the floor against the Razorbacks with 15 SU wins in their last 16 games, 11-5 ATS, but are just 1-3 AS this season as betting underdogs.
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