NCAA Basketball Picks: St John's vs. Louisville

Jeff Grant

Thursday, February 14, 2013 2:07 PM GMT

The Louisville Cardinals have had four days off to recuperate since suffering a five-overtime loss in their last contest, as they now try to remain perfect at home against the St. John’s Red Storm.


Let’s take a closer look at the betting total for this Big East Conference matchup that will tip off from the KFC Yum! Center at 9:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Life without Lavin

St. John’s will play its second consecutive game without head coach Steve Lavin on the sidelines, as he missed Sunday’s 77-58 defeat to the Syracuse Orange as 13.5-point road underdogs due to the death of this 82-year-old father. 

The Red Storm have knocked off nine top-25 opponents since Lavin took over the program three years ago, with him being in the huddle in eight of them. He missed most of last season in making a full recovery from prostate cancer surgery.

What’s left in the tank?

Louisville ended up on the short end of a 104-101 decision in five overtimes to Notre Dame last Saturday, which ended up being the longest Big East regular-season game in history.

The Cardinals are 0-4 against the spread in their last four games following a straight-up loss—something that college basketball handicappers need to factor in when making their sports betting picks Thursday night.

Hard to imagine a SU win

It’s hard to imagine the visitor coming away with a straight-up victory in this affair, considering Louisville has won all six of its previous home games in this series. St. John’s is 0-3 ATS in its three losses on the road in conference play—failing to cover the number by an average of 4.8 points per game in that situation.

Expect a defensive effort out of the host

The UNDER is 19-7-1 in the Cardinals’ last 27 games following a defeat, which includes falling short of the number in seven of their last eight games when returning home after a conference loss on the road.

The total had opened up at 131, but the number has risen to 132.5 on most NCAA Basketball odds boards. This movement only adds to the value in backing the UNDER again tonight.

Louisville has limited foes to 55.9 points on 39 percent shooting on its home floor this season, while the UNDER is 5-2-1 in the last eight meetings in this series.

[gameodds]14/220687/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

I’m going to recommend that readers play the total as one of their NCAA basketball picks Thursday night, as points will be hard to come by on the floor, while each team shoots under 70 percent from the charity stripe.

NCAA Basketball Pick: Under 131.5 at Sports Interaction