NCAA Basketball Pick on UC Irvine Anteaters over Louisville

LT Profits Sports Group

Friday, March 20, 2015 2:58 PM UTC

Friday, Mar. 20, 2015 2:58 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.


One of the four-seeds in the NCAA Tournament could be on Upset Alert as the Round of 64 concludes on Friday when the 13th seeded UC Irvine Anteaters (21-12, 11-9 away/neutral) take on those fourth seeded Louisville Cardinals (24-8, 9-4 away/neutral) in the East Region from KeyArena in Seattle, WA at 4:10 ET in a game televised nationally on TBS.

The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has UC Irvine as a decided underdog for this contest with the current line at +8 with odds of -106.

Louisville Finished Fourth in ACC
This NCAA Tournament got off to a great start Thursday with two 13-seeds upsetting four-seeds within the span of about one hour both by one point, as first UAB shocked Iowa State 60-59 and then Georgia State made Money Line supporters everywhere happy by stunning Baylor 57-56. Now another 13-seed in UC Irvine hopes to follow in those same footsteps vs. the Cardinals from Louisville.

While most of the attention in the ACC was centered around Duke and Virginia, and to a bit of a lesser extent third place Notre Dame, Louisville rather quietly finished fourth in its first year in the conference, even finishing ahead of a perennial ACC kingpin in fifth place North Carolina. UC Irvine meanwhile finished second in the Big West during the regular season but it was then the winning NCAA Basketball pick three times in three days to win that conference tournament.

Cardinals Not the Same Since Dismissing Jones
Now on paper, Louisville seems like a formidable challenge for the Anteaters here as besides finishing fourth in a major conference, the Cardinals are ranked sixth in the entire country in defensive efficiency and eighth in field goal percentage allowed at only 43.4 percent. However, Louisville has simply not been the same team since dismissing Chris Jones from the school amidst his rape allegations.

You see, Jones was arguably their best defender on the team, and that is not to mention adding 13.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists to an otherwise struggling Cardinals’ offense that is ranked 226th in effective field goal percentage at 47.8 percent. And because of Jones’s absence, Coach Rick Pitino has been forced to play more zone defense, and that unit has suffered as a result.

Louisville remains 20th in the country in points against at 59.5 per game, but that average has gone up to 63.0 points the last eight games without Jones with the Cardinals going just 4-4 in those contests after beginning the season 20-4.

Tallest Player in College Basketball
Now that defense must deal with the tallest player in college basketball in the 7-foot-6 UC Irvine center Mamadou Ndiaye! The Senegalese native from Dakar was injured earlier this season and thus appeared in only 22 games. He did average 10.4 points in those games while shooting a blistering 63.0 percent from the field, all within a couple of feet of the basket, and his vast wingspan makes him an imposing figure and a matchup nightmare on both ends of the court.

With help from Ndiaye over the second half of the season, UC Irvine has an effective field goal percentage of 50.7 percent offensively, just about three full percentage points higher than Louisville’s dismal average, but perhaps most importantly the Anteaters are 23rd in the land in effective field goal percentage allowed at only 44.7 percent.

Ndiaye has made it almost impossible for opponents to do much of anything on the interior as Irvine ranks 16th in two-point defense at 42.3 percent, and that could make things very difficult on a Louisville offense that needs to do damage inside as this just might be the worst three-point shooting team that Pitino has ever coached, ranking 313th in that category at 30.4 percent!

Anteaters Have Performed Well vs. Good Teams
Finally, UC Irvine has not backed off vs. better competition going 15-5-1 ATS in its last 21 games vs. teams with winning straight up records.

It certainly seems plausible for UC Irvine to become the third 13-seed in two days to emerge victorious on the court, but our recommendation is to take the rather generous points with the Anteaters vs. a Louisville team that has just been treading water since losing Jones in this East Region matchup on Friday.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: UC Irvine +8 (-106)

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