Here are my top sports picks for this Jimmy V contest between Louisville & Indiana, a pair of legendary NCAA Basketball programs meeting with immensely diverse styles.
Louisville (-12) vs. Indiana 9:30 ET ESPN (Madison Square Garden)
This is the nightcap of the annual Jimmy V Classic played each year at Madison Square Garden in early December. Though I am not much for allowing my emotions to cloud my judgments when making NCAA Basketball picks during the 5 months of the college basketball season, I always make it a point to tune-in for the emotional replay of the Classic Jim Valvano speech in the closing months of his battle against cancer. It is a good opportunity to put the world of sports betting in the proper perspective. It is a must watch moment, if you are one of the few who has yet to be inspired by that speech. In this contest, a pair of legendary basketball programs meets with immensely diverse styles. It will come as no surprise to most of you that this bureau is siding with the better defensive team.
At the beginning of the season, 7th year Indiana HC Crean openly stated that his Hoosiers would be a running basketball team. True to his word, the Hoosiers opened the season with 8 home games in which they have averaged 88 PPG on 52% shooting. Indiana has scored 81 or more points against 7/8 opponents. They are led by 19.5 PPG from frosh Blackmon, who is joined by veteran running mate, Yogi Ferrell, who averages 17.3 PPG as his backcourt mate. Tonight, however, the Hoosiers leave Assembly Hall for the first time. Although it is not a true road game, the venue, as well as the competition, will be quite a shock.
Perennial Top 20 team, Louisville, is coached by veteran mentor Rick Pitino in his 14th year on the bench at Louisville. After winning it all 2 years ago, his Cardinals settled for a Sweet 16 appearance last year. This year, Louisville moves to membership in the ACC, a conference who got soundly whipped in last week’s annual matchup against the Big 10. This is a nice chance for the Cards to get a measure of revenge for their new conference affiliation. Louisville enters as one of the nation’s 11 unbeaten teams. To the surprise of few, Pitino is again doing it with defense. His Cardinals have already defeated a pair of Big 10 teams in Ohio St. (64-55) and Minnesota (81-68). This margin will be greater, as the Indiana up-tempo offense plays right into the full court pressure style of Louisville. The Cardinals’ defense allows just 47.5 PPG, 31% shooting and forces 20 takeaways per game. The size, strength and depth of Louisville will allow them many opportunities in the open court for uncontested layups. Louisville has won their last 8 games in appearances at Madison Square Garden.
In a matchup of ACC vs. Big 10, Louisville continues their defensive dominance and rolls to a comfortable double digit victory.
Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Louisville -12 (105) at 5Dimes