Revenge-Driven Louisville Is Our NCAA Basketball Pick When Hosting North Carolina

Joe Gavazzi

Monday, February 1, 2016 3:30 PM GMT

Monday, Feb. 1, 2016 3:30 PM GMT

N. Carolina (19-2) travels to Louisville (18-3) with 1st place on the line in the ACC at the halfway point of the league season. But will that be enough to be our NCAA basketball pick?

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Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Louisville -115
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker

 

North Carolina vs. Louisville (-1) 7:00 ET ESPN
There are strength of schedule questions for each of these teams. Louisville played an easy early schedule until Christmas, beginning the year at 12-0 SU. Since that time, they have suffered a narrow 2 point loss to Kentucky, a 4 point loss at Clemson and a most embarrassing 16 point home loss to Virginia on Saturday. For N. Carolina, who is 8-0 SU in league play, the schedule has broken just right in January. Only a home game vs. Clemson has been against any of the upper echelon of the ACC.

With the scheduling as a backdrop, we turn our attention to the situation of tonight’s game. Louisville will clearly be the hungrier team. The Cards trail N. Carolina in the conference standings, come off the embarrassing previous home loss on Saturday, and play with CTR (confidence tourney revenge) for a (70-60) loss to the Tar Heels after they had split games on their home courts in regular season play last season. Those factors, combined with the record of Louisville on their strong home court where they are 58-9 SU 3+Y and 13-1 SU TY, are the reasons why I prefer Louisville today.

 

Betting Analysis
This will be a battle of offense vs. defense. N. Carolina is considered by many to be the best offensive team in the country. The Tar Heels average 85 PPG on 48% shooting, knocking down 74% of their foul shots and operating with a +8 TO/assist ratio. With the +10 rebound margin, they are a solid statistical team. They feature offensive balance with lead guard Page and Berry in the backcourt and Brice Johnson and Meeks up front. Then, there is the coaching of Roy Williams, whose teams are 43-26 ATS in the underdog role (this being their first of the season).

For Louisville, under 15th year HC Pitino, the Cards once again hang their hat on defense. They allow little better than 60 PPG, only 37% from the field and 31% from the arc. Like N. Carolina, they are strong on the glass with a +11 rebound margin, forcing 15 TOs per game rounds out their equation. But, they are underrated on offense, considering they score nearly 80 PPG on 49% shooting. In the preseason, it was questioned whether this would be a vintage Louisville team, as they had just 2 RS and appeared to lack strength on the perimeter. No one in the country, however, has taken more advantage of the grad transfer rule than did Pitino, when he landed Trey Lewis from Cleveland St. and Damion Lee from Drexel. These two have forged immediate chemistry and provide cohesion for the team. With the anticipated return of Mathiang, the Cards will be able to put on a typical late season charge. It all starts tonight with this bounce back, revenge victory on their strong home boards over the Tar Heels.

I invite you to put the NCAA basketball odds in your favor and join me in my NCAA basketball pick with Louisville tonight.

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