Friday Picks: Historic Total for Louisville Game

Jay Pryce

Friday, November 17, 2017 2:42 PM UTC

Friday, Nov. 17, 2017 2:42 PM UTC

Our top college basketball picks for Friday feature No. 18 Louisville seeing its highest home 'over/under' ever hosting up-tempo Nebraska-Omaha and another potential barnburner when Northern Arizona travels to Arizona State.

Nebraska-Omaha at No. 18 Louisville (-25.5)

So far, so good for Louisville under interim head coach David Padgett after beating George Mason 72-61 in the season opener. School officials placed former coach and program architect Rick Pitino on leave in late September following a FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball targeted the university as a primary offender. It’s the second major scandal to rock the program in three years following the uncovering of sex-for-pay scheme in 2015.

Despite the turmoil, the Cardinals are still a top-25 team and play on the court very Pitino-like: energetic, physical and defensive. Padgett, who worked under Pitino the last three seasons, adopted many of the X’s and O’s in the legendary coach’s playbook. And for good reason: The team’s core is still intact. Quentin Snider and Deng Adel, both double-figure scorers last year, and 7-footer Anas Mahmoud return as starters. The players are a close-knit group, built from the frontcourt out, and recruited to fit Pitino’s system; no need to change it.

Nebraska-Omaha, fielding five seniors and a new pair of guards, enters the meeting picked to finish sixth in the Summit League. Veteran head coach Derrin Hansen, an offensive guru who employs a run-and-gun motion scheme, leads the Mavericks in his 13th season. The team ranks as third fastest in tempo nationally. Oddsmakers are well aware.

The 'over/under' 164 is the highest ever for a contest at KFC Yum! Center. This is too much considering the Cardinals’ defense and superior talent. Since 2007, the ‘under’ is 9-2 overall when Louisville tips off at home with a total of 150 or higher. The margin stays 3.0 points south of a 153.2 average total. Bettors can expect Louisville will hit the century mark, but the overmatched Mavericks are unlikely to reach their projections. Eight of the 11 opponents in this situation failed to match their team total. Consider it a team victory if Nebraska-Omaha hits 60 points.

Free NCAAB Pick: Under 164Best Line Offered: BetOnline

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Northern Arizona at Arizona State (-23.5)

Northern Arizona is 14-50 SU since 2014, finishing 10th in the in the Big Sky last season (9-23 SU). Head coach Jack Murphy lost his five top scorers from last year, which is probably a good thing since the team posted just 68.6 points per night. Murphy added eight newcomers to the squad, including All-American JUCO senior Ruben Fuamba and two D-I transfers: Malcolm Allen (Stanford) and Gino Littles (UTSA).

Murphy is hoping to pick up the pace and play with added pressure and intensity this season. So far, the chemistry is way off. The Lumberjacks fell to Arizona 101-67 in the opener, covering a -34.5 line by a half point. They followed up that effort losing to D-II Embry-Riddle 82-70 in Flagstaff. Woof.  Murphy’s men shot 35.6 percent from the floor against the NAIA squad, worst than against the then-No. 5 Wildcats (39.7). Expect better tonight, but the defense will continue to struggle.

Arizona State is 21-7 SU all-time in the series, but has dropped three of the last four meetings. It was heavy chalk in the last two, losing 69-68 as a 14-point favorite in 2011 and 75-71 lying -7.5 in 2006. We’re not expecting an outright upset Friday night, but like the Lumberjacks to stay closer than projected and boost the score.

When the Devils are double-digit home favorites under head coach Bobby Hurley, the ‘over’ is 6-3, but playing 12.9 points above a 155.6 average total. The Sun Devils average 93.1 points in this situation. They have scored and allowed more points than the market projects in all but two games. Look for an up-tempo game that sees Arizona State score 90-plus with a competitive Lumberjacks performance pushing the total ‘over’ the 158 opening total. Prediction: Arizona State 93-75.

Free NCAAB Pick: Over 158Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

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