The St. Louis Billikens had a comeback for the ages in their 2nd round 83-80 overtime win versus NC State on Thursday. They were able to overcome a 16-point deficit with a tad over eight minutes left to play, and scored 21-points in final three minutes of regulation time in order to send the game to an extra session. The Billikens were also able to persevere despite some horrific free throw shooting. They were an abysmal 12-26 (46.2%) from the charity stripe. Luckily for them the Wolfpack were less than stellar as well going 20-37 (54.1%). On a positive note St. Louis shot an outstanding 48.6% from the field, and was a momentous 9-18 (50%) from beyond the three-point line. The improbable comeback by the Billikens although uplifting, doesn’t diminish the fact that they’ve been far from a great team over their last 6-games going just 2-4 during that stretch. The Billikens ticket to success this season, and their calling card over the last few years, has been their superb defensive play. However, they’ve allowed an average of 70.5 points over the last 6-games, which is well above their season average of 61.8. They will have to be much better in that area versus the defending national champion Louisville Cardinals on Saturday if they hope to punch their ticket to the “Sweet 16”.
Survive and Advance
It would be safe to say that Louisville didn’t play one of their better games this season during a 71-64 win over the Manhattan Jaspers in a 2nd round game on Thursday night. The Cardinals were never close to cover the NCAA basketball odds that saw them installed as a 16.0 point favorite. Quite frankly they were fortunate enough to come away with the win after shooting a miserable 36.4% from the field. The Cardinals saving graces was their ability to convert at free throw line going 27-35 (77.1%), a huge 40-26 rebounding advantage which included 15 offensive boards, and their intense defensive pressure that forced 15 Manhattan turnovers. Despite their dominance in those aspects of their game, the Cardinals trailed 56-55 with 4:57 to play before seizing control of the game by going on a 10-2 run.
At the time of this writing odds hadn’t been posted for this contest. According to my power numbers Louisville would be an 8.5 point favorite on a neutral court. My prediction on this game for your sports picks is to take the Louisville Cardinals minus the points. I can give the Cardinals an excuse for their flat performance in their 2nd round win over Manhattan. Although the Billikens comeback win over NC State was of a scintillating variety, it did nothing in regards to convincing me they’ve snapped out of their late season funk.
Free Pick: Louisville minus the points over St. Louis