Best ATS bets in the Sweet 16 

March, 20, 2012

You're out of your bracket pool. You picked Duke in your survivor pool. You bet on Missouri to win the tournament. Stop dreaming about the big prize and focus on straight wagers. There are only 15 games left to bet in the tournament.

The prohibitive favorite to win the title is Kentucky. At Bovada, the Wildcats are a touch over 2-1 (21-10). (Second choice Ohio State checks in at 5-1.) Instead of rushing in a bet on the Wildcats to win the tournament, a better value option is to bet them individually in each game and lay the points.

Yes, I'm talking about Kentucky, the team that is ranked 13th of our remaining 16 teams in the SB, a team that is 13-21 ATS and one of the only four teams with a negative SB number (-.04). (And the team that faces Chad Millman's Indiana Hoosiers in the Sweet 16.)

It is surprising that a 13-21 ATS team has a minus-.04 SB number. The expectation is that it should be worse.

As a point of comparison, the only team left in the tournament that has an ATS record that resembles Kentucky's is Xavier (12-18-2). Xavier's SB number is minus-.91. In games that have been decided by five points or fewer relative to the spread, Kentucky is 5-12 this year.

Spread results that are decided by very small margins can be attributed more to luck, especially in the short run. Whether Kentucky gives up a meaningless 3-pointer at the end of a game when it's up 20 (and was an 18-point favorite) is a completely random outcome more than anything else. Obviously, the same can't be said for results that are more decisive.

The team on the other extreme is Louisville. Despite being 20-13-1 ATS, Louisville has a minus-.41 SB number. Of the 16 teams left in the tournament, Louisville is the only one that has a positive ATS number and a negative SB number. Not surprisingly, its matchup against Michigan State (our No. 1-ranked SB team left) yields the biggest SB difference (4.76) between two teams facing each other in Sweet 16 contests. Enjoy the rest of the tournament.

Special thanks to Sal Selvaggio of for providing Insider with Sweat Barometer data all season.

Jeff Gold

ESPN Contributor