NCAA Basketball Picks: Louisville & Miami To Engage In Low Scoring Game

Jay Pryce

Saturday, February 27, 2016 12:35 PM UTC

Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 12:35 PM UTC

Louisville at Miami tussle on Saturday with second place in the ACC on the line. The two share an 11-4 conference record, a game back of leaders UNC. Get your NCAA basketball pick here.

Louisville Cardinals (22-6 SU, 12-12 ATS)
Louisville's 67-60 win over Pitt as a 1.5-point favorite in the Petersen Events Center was the team's first road cover of the season versus a conference foe. They'll look to make it two in a row over a team coach Rick Pitino has gotten the better of in his time with the Cardinals. Since 2006, he's bested Miami four out of four times (2-2 ATS) with three of the victories earned over the last two seasons. The vaunted Cardinals defense has been the difference-maker, holding the Hurricanes to 59 points or less in each.

The Cardinals' 89.2 points allowed per 100 possessions is the most efficient in the nation ahead of Wichita State and San Diego State. The smothering defense, coupled with a cupcake out-of-conference schedule, has helped the Cardinals accrue the nation's best average scoring margin at +16.3 points.

Pitino's offense is not as good as the last couple of years, but it remains competitive. Senior guards Trey Lewis (11.7 ppg) and Damion Lee (16.6 ppg)--each transferring to the school this season with the intentions of playing in March Madness, but will be unable to partake under Louisville's recent self-imposed ban from postseason play--lead an offense scoring 111.2 points per 100 possessions.

Louisville is a team that capitalizes off its opponents mistakes. Year after year Pitino's program is one of the best at generating extra scoring chances, which is a boon to the offense. This year its 5.8 per game is tied for sixth most nationally. Where the team runs into trouble is against better ball-control opponents. Against conference foes averaging 10 turnovers per game or less entering the contest, which pits many of them (Duke, UVA, Notre Dame, etc.) near the top for fewest in college basketball, the Cardinals are 3-3 SU, 0-5-1 ATS on the year. Versus ACC opponents with more, they are 8-1 SU, 6-3 against the NCAA basketball odds. Miami's 10.4 turnovers per game is slightly above the threshold, but low enough to potentially disrupt Louisville's game plan


Miami Hurricanes (22-5 SU, 16-10 ATS)
Miami rebounded from a humiliating 96-71 defeat to the No.7 Tar Heels in Chapel Hill last weekend to upend No. 3 Virginia 64-61 as a 1.5-point favorite on Monday night. The Louisville matchup is the third of a four-game run the Hurricanes play versus an AP top 25 team; up next is Notre Dame.

Coach Jim Larranaga's men are 8-0 SU, 6-1-1 ATS in conference play at the BankUnited Center this season. Can they keep their perfect home record intact against one the the ACC's toughest? Perhaps, but they'll have to grind it out. A victory will give the program its first 12-win season in conference since joining the ACC.

This is the seventh game against a ranked opponent for the 'Canes this year. Senior guard Sheldon McClellan, the nation's most efficient offensive player with 20 possessions or more per game according to KenPom, has come up huge in the prior six, scoring 15.0 points per contest on 51.8 percent shooting.

Miami does most of their damage down low on offense, averaging 29.9 points per game in the paint against ACC opponents. With an above average offensive rebounding rate (29.4), can they find success against the rim-protecting Cardinals? Louisville is a force in the paint, and owns a +7.9 rebounding edge. Efficient put-backs for the 'Canes unit may be tough to come by.


Final Analysis
In three prior meetings, Larranaga's men have failed to score more than 55 points in any game. Their methodical, penetrete-the-paint offensive sets fit right into the hands of Pitino's strengths. The 'Canes will likely win, but they'll have a tough time getting to or out of the 60s. I'll pass on the -3 in a potentially low-scoring affair, and look for value in the UNDER 135 as your NCAA basketball pick.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 135
Best Line Offered: at 5Dimes

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