Louisville vs. Pittsburgh NCAA Basketball Picks: Expecting Low Scores

Willie Bee

Thursday, February 25, 2016 1:57 PM GMT

Our Hump Day NCAA basketball picks lineup starts with an ACC battle in Pittsburgh where the Panthers host Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals in a prime-time matchup.

The Pittsburgh Panthers are going to be in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, that's a fact. Still, at least one victory over a ranked team would look nice on their resume, and the Panthers get two shots to do that this week.

Pittsburgh is 0-5 in games against teams ranked at the time of the encounters, and gets a chance to get off the schneid Wednesday night at home vs. the Louisville Cardinals. ESPN3 will stream the 8 PM (ET) contest from Petersen Events Center, the Cardinals favored by 1-1½ after opening -2. Bookmaker is offering 136½ for the total.

One thing to keep in mind as the ACC regular season winds down is how Louisville's exclusion from the postseason will affect the conference tourney which is scheduled to get underway March 8 in Washington DC. Right now, the Cardinals self-imposed ban is good news for Duke and Notre Dame who are battling it out for what will be the No. 4 seed in the event. Pittsburgh, still a healthy 35 in the latest RPI could sneak into that picture, but the Panthers will need to first beat Louisville tonight before hosting Duke this Sunday.

 

Cards On 7-Game Run Vs. Pitt
Both teams were ranked in each of the two conventional polls when they met at the KFC Yum! Center in mid-January. Pittsburgh entered that game on a run of 10 consecutive wins and was off to a 3-0 start in ACC action, while Louisville was coming off just its third defeat of the season.

The Cardinals, who were 7 point favorites on the NCAA basketball odds, ended the Panthers' streak with a 59-41 decision that marked the lowest-score in the rivalry that dates to their former Big East days and before. Louisville was paced by a double-double from Chinanu Onuaku (18 pts, 10 reb) and held Pitt to just 14 field goals on 49 attempts (28%). The Cardinals also came away with 10 steals and blocked six shots.

That victory was Louisville's seventh in a row over Pittsburgh, the last three of those coming as ACC foes, and obviously fell well short of a 145 point total. Last year's contest in the Iron City ended in an 80-68 victory for the Cardinals who covered as 6 point chalk with the final having plenty to get past a 124½ scoreboard barrier.

 

'Under' A Big February Winner For Both Sides
Louisville (21-6 straight up, 11-11-1 against the spread) has spent most of February at home, and when the Cardinals did venture out on the ACC highway, things didn't go well. Their only two road games this month ended in defeat at Duke and Notre Dame, failing to cover either affair.

The Cards did at least gain a split with the Blue Devils after topping Duke last Saturday, 71-64. That final pushed a closing 7 point line, the final falling short of  a 143 total to mark the sixth 'under' in Louisville's last seven matchups.

The January 14 loss to the Cardinals started a downward spiral for Pittsburgh (19-7 SU, 11-12 ATS). Jamie Dixon's troops proceeded to lose six of nine, counting the setback in Louisville, three of those defeats coming consecutively to ranked Virginia, Miami and North Carolina squads, and they'll face two this week with Duke following Louisville into Pittsburgh this Sunday.

The Panthers managed to pull out of that tailspin last week with back-to-back wins vs. Wake Forest (in double OT) and at Syracuse. The safest bet in a Pitt game recently has been to take the 'under' which has been a winner seven of the last nine trips to the floor.

Current trends for both clubs would suggest the 'under' in this one, and that's just the way I'm playing it for my free NCAA basketball pick.

 

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 136½ 
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker