Louisville Cardinals to Fly Under Number vs. No. 1 Virginia

Doug Upstone

Thursday, March 1, 2018 3:27 PM UTC

Thursday, Mar. 1, 2018 3:27 PM UTC

By most accounts, the Louisville Cardinals remain squarely on the bubble. And as we all know, most bubbles are round, which means you can fall off if not seated squarely on the top.

No. 1 Virginia (26-2, 18-7 ATS) at Louisville (19-10, 14-12-1 ATS)Free NCAAB Pick: LouisvilleBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Most NCAA Tournament bracket assemblers have Louisville among their last 4-6 teams presently in the NCAA field, but with 11 days to go before the bids are officially announced, you don't need Joe Lunardi telling you the situation changes day to day. For the Cardinals, all they drew for their final home game of the season was the No. 1 team in the country in Virginia. How tough can that be, right?

The NCAA basketball odds have Louisville as a four-point home underdog, and this will be only the second time the Cards will be in the role this season. (The other was 12 days ago and they were eaten up by North Carolina 93-76 at Yum-Yum Center.)

Virginia Will Try and Take Away Louisville's Will

It is really remarkable just how good the Virginia defense always is under coach Tony Bennett. When he left Washington State, there were plenty of skeptics who said Bennett's defensive principles, which he learned from his dad, would be exposed in a league like the ACC.

Yet here we are with the Cavaliers first in the nation in scoring defense (51.1 PPG), third in two-point percentage allowed (37.5) and fifth in three-point percentage allowed (29.6). It is hard to play any better defensively and Virginia just drains the life out of opposing offenses.

Virginia enters this contest 9-1 SU and ATS in true away games, and as long as the Cavs do not have a slow start, which does happen on occasion, they will be difficult to knock off.

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Cardinals Host No. 1 Virginia on Thursday Night for Senior Night

🔴 Out for the Seniors!!

Game Preview ➡️ https://t.co/WKfiKf81h2 pic.twitter.com/E2FMzR2pP7

— Louisville Basketball (@LouisvilleMBB) February 28, 2018

For the Cardinals, Patience and Persistence

Louisville covered the spread at Virginia on Jan. 31, losing 74-64 as a 10.5-point underdog. Early in the second half, the Cards were only down five, but two empty trips and two Cavs buckets, and they were down 10 points and that was the ballgame. A review of the box score shows the 'Ville was 25-for-50 shooting, 8-for-18 from behind the arc and they cashed on all six free throws, none too shabby.

So how does coach David Padgett's squad close the gap and find a way to victory lane? It will be imperative not to have a -6 turnover differential as conventional wisdom says that is worth about a point per turnover. Also, six free throws are not nearly enough, and that means hitting the offensive glass like Louisville teams of old and getting putbacks and picking up cheap fouls.

Virginia will not lose its poise, that means the Cardinals cannot, either.

Your ACC Thursday Spread Winner

For NCAA basketball picks, most signs point to Louisville. The Cards are the hungrier and needier team. It is Senior Night, and the emotions of this season will bubble to the top (pun clearly intended). And Virginia does not have much to play for. Yet even with all this, Virginia is 8-0 ATS as a road favorite this season and that is hard to overlook. In a close call, I'll take the four points with the Cardinals and say they lose by two.

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