NCAA Basketball Picks: Expert Sides With Louisville Plus Odds At Duke

Willie Bee

Monday, February 8, 2016 2:10 PM UTC

Monday, Feb. 8, 2016 2:10 PM UTC

Forget all of the problems Louisville and Duke are having right now, and join us for a preview and free NCAA basketball pick in the most interesting game on Monday's board.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Louisville +3.5
Best Line Offered: at Heritage


So, how many of you took my advice two weeks ago about grabbing Denver and the points on the Super Bowl? I know it was many after seeing the public firmly behind Carolina.

Next question: How many of you expected we would see two programs in trouble tonight when the Louisville Cardinals travel over to Tobacco Road to take on the Duke Blue Devils? Count me among those who didn't foresee this scenario. I certainly expected both teams to at least be ranked, and that's no longer the case with Duke out of the polls.

What has transpired over the last few weeks does tarnish tonight's game in Durham a little, and it will surely give Sean McDonough and Jay Bilas more to talk about than just the action on the floor when the Cardinals and Blue Devils tip a little past 7 PM (ET) on ESPN. But if anything, it also makes the game even more compelling and it definitely doesn't make it less interesting on the wagering front.

Speaking of that, Duke is going off in the -4 to -4½ range on the morning line, BetOnline one of the sports books on the low end of the spectrum and 5Dimes among those bossting the spread a half-point higher. The total started at 146½ but has jumped a half to 147 almost across the board.


Teams To Meet Again Less Than 2 Weeks From Now
The 11th meeting in the series is just the second clash as ACC foes, and a third is coming up 12 days from now over in the Bluegrass State. Among the 10 previous meetings, two came during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament in 1986 and 2013. The 1986 contest was in championship, Louisville cutting down the nets with a 72-69 decision that featured players like Pervis Ellison and Johnny Dawkins.

The 2013 battle came in the Elite Eight round at Indianapolis. and once again it was the Cardinals coming away with the victory by an 85-63 count as 4 point favorites on the NCAA basketball odds. That contest is best remembered for Cardinals guard breaking his leg in the first half of a closely-fought game before Louisville ran away with matters in the final 20 minutes.

Last year's one-and-only meeting as conference foes was played in Louisville where Rick Pitino's No. 6 Cards were favored by 3. Mike Krzyzewski's kids came out strong to build a 10-point halftime lead on their way to a 63-52 triumph. Jahlil Okafor and Amile Jefferson were the stars for Duke and big reasons why the Blue Devils held Louisville to under 30% shooting in the game. The victory gave Duke a 6-4 lead in the all-time series, and the final never got close to a 142½ point total.


How Will Cards React To Postseason Ban?
Louisville (19-4 straight up, 10-9 against the spread) won't be meeting Duke or anyone else this postseason after the school announced a self-imposed ban last Friday due to some recruiting violations. Nothing about the story should surprise anyone who has been following college sports the past 50 years.

The Cardinals can still win the ACC regular season title, but the question begs just how much motivation does a team of kids not involved in this scandal have? The ban was announced after beating North Carolina last Monday and the team responded with a 32-point win over Boston College on Saturday. They even walloped the Eagles without leading scorer Damion Lee (knee) who's status has been upgraded to probable for tonight.

After losing four of five to close out January, Duke (17-6 SU, 10-11-1 ATS) has bounced back with a pair of wins over Georgia Tech and NC State. Amile Jefferson is still out of the lineup due to a broken foot, and guard Grayson Allen is battling an ankle injury that has him less than 100% though he still managed to score 28 against the Wolfpack.

I'm expecting this game to get physical, so it depends how the refs handle that. Duke's bench is extremely thin, and that's the biggest reason my free NCAA basketball pick will be on the Cardinals.

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