The Wisconsin Badgers prepare to square off with the Syracuse Orange Thursday evening. Who are we picking to advance into the next round of the NCAA Tournament, and what have the odds makers set out for us to pick from?

The Wisconsin Badgers logged a 2-0 spread record in last week’s first pair of NCAA Tournamentaffairs, capping off a 4-1 ATS run in their last five contests. Bo Ryan’s troops head to Boston’s TD Garden for the East bracket’s regional semifinals in Thursday’s matchup against the top-seeded Syracuse Orange, who saw the ‘under’ cash at 2-0 in their tourney openers. 

Sportsbooks opened Syracuse as a four-point favorite, while first setting the ‘total’ at 119. EarlyNCAA basketball betting action on the Orange and ‘over’ saw the numbers rise to 4.5 and 122 an several NCAA Basketball odds boards. 

Orange blow away K-State 

Wisconsin vs. SyracuseSyracuse shot a sizable 51.1 percent from the field in Saturday’s 75-59 victory as a 5.5 point favorite against the Kansas State Wildcats. The Orange drained 6-of-9 beyond the arc, while being edged out in boards, 37-31. 

Orange starters Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph united for 27 points, with Jardine adding eight of his squad’s 13 assists. Syracuse’s Dion Waiters came off the bench for a team-high 18 points, including a perfect 7-for-7 day at the foul line. 

The contest’s combined 134 points ducked below the closing ‘total’ of 134.5 by a ‘hook.’ Orange forward Rakeem Christmas logged 11 rebounds in 34 minutes of action, while finishing with eight points and three blocks.

Badgers hold off Vandy 

Wisconsin survived a tight affair in Saturday’s 60-57 triumph as a one-point favorite against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Badgers led by as many as nine points, while held to 41.8 percent field shooting.

Badgers guard Jordan Taylor notched a team-high 14 points, while adding three assists. Taylor’s mate Mike Bruesewitz hit 4-of-6 from the field, finishing with 10 points and three of Wisconsin’s four steals.

The battle’s combined 117 points dipped below the ‘total’ of 122, making the ‘under’ 2-1 in the Badgers’ last three games. Wisconsin sank a sparse 4-of-8 free throws, while being outrebounded, 32-27.

Back Syracuse to get the cover

Thursday’s tip is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. (ET), with CBS providing the national television coverage.

I am laying the points with Syracuse and adding them to my NCAA basketball picks, looking for Jim Boeheim’s squad to convincingly punch its ticket to the “Elite Eight” of the “Big Dance.” The Orange have been overvalued in recent spots, but a lower premium than expected here gives them my nod in the “Sweet Sixteen.”

Syracuse has been filling the void of Fab Melo’s absence, with different teammates stepping up in the squad’s pair of openers. Christmas has grabbed 18 boards over the two contests, while bench mate James Southerland has been an “x-factor” with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks.

Wisconsin has been held to 61.7 PPG in its last three contests and could find itself unable to keep up with the Orange here. The Badgers could not put Vanderbilt away early, letting the Commodores hang around within a three-ball throughout the game’s final four minutes.

Syracuse is 11-5 ATS in its last 16 non-conference games, while the Badgers have logged a 3-7 spread mark in their last 10 contests that followed a victory. The Orange have rarely been this meager of a favorite all season, bringing value in this spot despite the team’s dominant second half against Kansas State.

Look for Syracuse to turn it up again here in the contest’s final 20 minutes, coasting to another double-digit win and cashed tickets for its backers.