NCAA Basketball Picks: Villanova vs. Louisville

Jeff Grant

Thursday, March 14, 2013 12:52 PM GMT

Thursday, Mar. 14, 2013 12:52 PM GMT

The Louisville Cardinals have reached the Big East Championship game in three of the last four years, as they begin their run in the event against the Villanova Wildcats Thursday night. Which team will help us cash in with our sports picks?

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Let’s take a closer look at the college basketball odds for this matchup, with the opening tip scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

Solid victory

Villanova solidified its 2013 NCAA Tournament resume Wednesday night, as it came away with a 66-53 victory over the St. John’s Red Storm as 4.5-point neutral-site favorites, while going UNDER the posted total of 126.

The Wildcats are 5-11 against the spread (ATS) in their last 16 neutral-site game, while falling short of the betting total in four of five in that situation.

Streaking at the right time

Louisville has won seven consecutive games by an average margin of 15.4 points, including a 73-57 victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish as 11-point home favorites last Saturday, while going OVER the posted total of 124.

The Wildcats are 30-11 ATS in their last 41 games following a straight-up (SU) win, while the UNDER is on a 9-4 run in that role.

Success against the best

College basketball handicappers definitely need to respect the Wildcats in the betting market, considering they’ve won all three of their games versus top-five opponents this year, including a 73-64 victory over the Cardinals as 11.5-point home underdogs on Jan. 22.

Villanova may have benefited from the fact that Louisville was hungover from suffering a 70-68 setback to Syracuse the game before, but it’s still an impressive win on its tournament resume.

Wrapping up a No. 1 seed

Louisville would certainly wrap up one of the four No. 1 seeds in the upcoming NCAA tournament if it managed to capture the Big East Championship, which is why coach Rick Pitino should have no trouble motivating his veteran-laden roster.

The Cardinals are 31-13 SU in postseason tournaments the last seven years, while they’ve won nine of their last 11 in this particular event.

[gameodds]14/224620/43/us[/gameodds]

Prediction

With no line currently available on the SBR Odds page, I’ve established the Cardinals as 6.5-point favorites, as they’ve managed to cover the number in 11 of their last 13 games on a neutral floor.

When it comes time to place your NCAA Basketball picks, bettors should lay the points if Louisville gets released as a favorite of six points or less, while Villanova is the play at odds of seven or more.

Handicapper Line:  Louisville Cardinals -6.5

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