With NCAA Basketball Odds favoring the Louisville Cardinals by 2.5 points on the spread and -145 on the Money Line, what's the best bet as they face the NC State Wolfpack?
NC State vs. Louisville (-3) 7:35 ET (TBS Carrier Dome: Syracuse, New York)
At 7:35 ET, NC State and Louisville meet in the Sweet 16 matchup at the Syracuse Carrier Dome. These ACC rivals met once this year with NC State prevailing by a count of 74-65 as 11 point road dog at Louisville. That game came in the midst of the Louisville distractions that were Chris Jones, who was dismissed from the team shortly thereafter. The victory was also the beginning of a post-season stretch run for NC State which has resulted in a 7-2 SU, 6-3 ATS run. The thinking below tells you why I believe Louisville can gain their home loss revenge and continue their post-season ascent.
NC State was a clear surprise in ACC action this season, led by 4th year HC Mark Gottfried, . Picked to finish in the lower half of the standings, the Wolfpack used the late season run described above for a record of 10-8 SU, 13-5 ATS in ACC regular season play. Playing against the best 4 teams in the league (Virginia, Duke, NC and Louisville), the Wolfpack went 3-4 SU, but 6-1 ATS. It was all part of the 6-2 ATS dog log in regular season play. Rival Duke got their revenge in the CCT with a 77-53 whipping. But, the Wolfpack resume was enough for inclusion with a No. 8 seed in their Big Dance invitation. Last weekend, they stormed back from a double digit deficit against LSU for a 66-65 victory. Then they added another shocking upset to their resume by holding on to beat Villanova (71-68). They are led by a strong trio of guards, including Cat Barber and a pair of SEC transfers in the persons of Trevor Lacey (Alabama) and Ralston Turner (LSU). It was an indication of how far great guard play can take a team. In the earlier matchup against Louisville, Cat Barber was a one-man, press breaker. The Pack was +10 on the boards and +16 in the paint.
As we form our NCAA Tournament Picks, we are well aware that the description of this Louisville team by 14th year HC Pitino is most accurate. He readily acknowledges his team’s offensive inadequacies. They shoot just 43% from the field, 30% from the arc and 66% from the stripe. But, there is a reason why Pitino has his Cardinals in the Sweet 16 for the 4th consecutive season. That reason is his coaching acumen, vast experience and defense. Again this year, his Cards allow just 60 PPG, 39% from the field and 29% from the arc. As such, they are a qualified Defensive Dandy. In addition, Louisville has a record of 11-4 SU in road or neutral games, including 6-3 ATS as dog to -5 in those games. That brings Pitino’s road record to 88-58 ATS.
Louisville clearly has the emotional and psychological edge in this one. NC State is off a double digit dog win, while Louisville is playing with 9 point home court revenge. Now that the Sweet 16 is here, look for Pitino to do his best coaching! With a team that qualifies as a Defensive Dandy and a Roadrunner, expect Louisville to get a more comfortable win than is imagined by the NCAA Tournament Odds Maker and public.
NCAA Tournament Picks: Take Louisville (-2.5) at Pinnacle