Louisville the NCAA Basketball Pick for Revenge in Sweet 16

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, March 27, 2015 4:03 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 27, 2015 4:03 PM UTC

Each day LT Profits Sports seeks an overlay side that has a better chance of cashing than its spread, offering long term value. Here is their Side Value Play for Friday.


The favorite is looking to avenge a regular season loss Friday night in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament vs. the team that also pulled one of the biggest upsets of the tournament last game when the eight seeded NC State Wolfpack (22-13, 8-7 away/neutral) take on the fourth seeded Louisville Cardinals (26-8, 11-4 away/neutral) in East Region action from the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, NY at 7:37 ET in a game televised nationally on TBS.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Louisville as a modest favorite for this contest with the current line at -2½ with odds of -106.

Couple of Notable Upsets for Wolfpack
NC State became the first team in the NCAA Tournament this season to beat a one-seed when it stunned Villanova on Saturday, and that is not the only Wolfpack upset this season pertinent to this game as they also went into Louisville and stunned the Cardinals 74-65 as 10½-point road underdogs during the regular season. That was on their way to a seventh place finish in an ACC that sent five teams to this Sweet 16 with a 10-8 conference mark.

In fact, this is an all-ACC matchup with the Cardinals finishing fourth in the conference at 12-6, making this the first ACC matchup in the NCAA Tournament since Duke defeated Maryland in the 2001 Final Four. Technically, Louisville as also an upset winning NCAA Basketball pick to make this matchup possible as it was a small underdog when beating fifth seeded Northern Iowa handily 66-53 on Sunday.

Pitino Should Make Defensive Adjustments
The stifling defense of Louisville was apparent in that victory as the Cardinals held Northern Iowa to 18-of-46, 39.1 percent shooting from the floor, and remember we are talking about a Panthers’ team that is ranked ninth in the country in effective field goal percentage! NC State meanwhile is ranked just 150th in that area at 49.4 percent, so expect Louisville to make the necessary adjustments after allowing 74 points to the Wolfpack during the year.

After all, the Cardinals rank fifth in the country in defensive efficiency and eight in effective field goal percentage allowed at 43.7 percent, so it is not as if they cannot duplicate the defensive effort vs. Northern Iowa here. Louisville is also adept at forcing turnovers, which is a normal staple of Rick Pitino coached teams, as it ranks 27th in defensive turnover percentage at 21.7 percent vs. a national average of 19.1 percent.

Granted the Cardinals are just 75th in offensive efficiency and this could be the worst three-point shooting team that Pitino has ever had while ranking 309th at 30.8 percent, but even with that, the loss to NC State during the season still marks the only time all year that the Cardinals two leading scorers Terry Rozier (17.2 points per game) and Montrezl Harrell (15.4) were both held to single-digits in the same game, which is something that does not figure to get repeated here.

Anomalous Performance for NC State
Speaking of things that do not figure to be repeated, NC State’s upset of Villanova was helped along by career performances from two youngsters with freshman Abdul-Malik Abu and sophomore Lennard Freeman both recording double-doubles! What made those performances even more amazing is that Abu is averaging 6.4 points and 4.7 rebounds this season and Freeman is averaging 3.5 and 5.7.

That means that Abu (13 points, 12 rebounds) and Freeman (11 points, 12 rebounds) both more than doubled their season averages in both areas in the 71-68 stunner vs. the Wildcats, something that almost certainly will not happen again vs. one of the very best defenses in the land here.

And do not forget that NC State by rights probably should have been eliminated in its first game of this tournament, when it overcame a 16-point second half deficit and closed the game with an 18-3 run to nip the LSU Tigers 66-65.

Louisville Rarely Loses When the Higher Seed
Finally, while the win by Louisville over Northern Iowa was technically an upset with the Cardinals being two-point underdogs, it was not in a seeding context continuing a pattern that now has Louisville at 51-9 straight up overall in the NCAA Tournament when it is the higher seed! That gains significance here with this point spread being so small.

Add this all up and look for midnight to strike for the Cinderellas from NC State as Louisville gets its revenge for the regular season loss when it matters most in the Sweet 16 from Syracuse on Friday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Louisville -2½ (-106)

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