NCAA Tournament Picks: Kentucky vs. Louisville -4.5

Jeff Grant

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 1:02 PM UTC

Wednesday, Mar. 26, 2014 1:02 PM UTC

Rick Pitino has never suffered a loss in the Sweet 16 Round during his coaching career, which provides the Louisville Cardinals a major edge over the Kentucky Wildcats Friday night.

Louisville is riding a seven-game winning streak, including a 66-51 victory over the Saint Louis Billikens as 9.5-point favorites in the Third Round last Saturday, while going UNDER the betting total for a third consecutive contest. 

The Cardinals are worthy favorites on the SBR Odds page, considering their head coach Rick Pitino has won all 11 of his appearances in the Sweet 16 over the course of his career.

Over the last two-plus seasons, the program is 25-3 SU and 23-4-1 ATS in March.

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Kentucky is starting to live up to its lofty expectations that many college basketball experts placed on the roster during the preseason, as it has advanced to this stage after picking up victories over Kansas State and Wichita State.

The Wildcats are expected to send out five freshmen in the starting lineup, with the group led by forward Julius Randle, who is averaging 15.1 points a contest. 

College basketball handicappers will find that the team is 2-5 SU and 3-4 ATS as underdogs during the 2013-14 campaign.

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The Cardinals will need a major performance from senior shooting guard Russ Smith if they plan on moving to the next stage, as he averages 18.1 points and 4.7 assists per game.

Smith finished with 19 points on 7 of 20 shooting in a 73-66 defeat to the Wildcats as 1.5-point road favorites in the NCAA basketball odds on Dec. 28—missing all five of his attempts from beyond the arc.

Pitino’s record at this stage is going to receive national headlines, but it’s important to point out that Kentucky has compiled a 32-11 SU record in regional semifinals, including a perfect 3-0 mark under head coach John Calipari.

Calipari-coached teams are 127-38 SU in the months of March and April, with the Blue and White winning 15 of 17 tournament games under his direction.

I’m going to recommend that readers back the Cardinals as one of their NCAA basketball picks, as they’ve covered the number in their last seven opportunities as neutral court favorites of 3.5 to 6 points.

Pick: Louisville Cardinals -4.5


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