Cards, Devils clash
March 31, 2013
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Though the Louisville Cardinal broke their insane cover streak of nine straight games, they managed to match the high flying Oregon Ducks shot for shot en route to an Elite Eight berth by dictating pace and controlling the game with a decisive 77-69 victory against a -11.0 handicap. The Ducks played them as well as they possibly could have, but Louisville dropped the proverbial hammer on a routine basis and marched out to an early lead in what looked to be a competitive matchup. Louisville has what we like to call a “sixth gear”, and when they drop the hammer there is no other team that can keep up with them.
Does Duke honestly have a chance? The Blue Devils routed Michigan State )in part because the refs were blind as bats in daylight, with a solid 71-61 victory that maintained their steady 2-1 ATS record in the tournament. The one thing you have to respect about Duke is their ability to win when playing outside of Cameron. They’re 8-2 ATS when playing on neutral ground, which is a comforting trend considering that they’re underdogs. Unfortunately, they don’t play that well against the Big East conference going a paltry 5-14-1 ATS in their last 20 matchups.
#2 Duke Blue Devils (30-5) vs. #1 Louisville Cardinals (32-5)
Sunday, March 31st --- (CBS, 2:10 p.m. ET)
NCAAB Betting Line: Louisville -3.5
When it comes to the best conference in college basketball, there is clearly no better team than Louisville. They are rabidly aggressive on both ends of the floor and Gorgui Dieng is proving that he is an elite player. His 10 points and 9 rebounds may seem average on the stat sheet but his presence on the floor eviscerated an Oregon team that was absolutely ready to run the floor. Dieng is the kind of game changer that coaches wish for every year.
Russ Smith notched 31 points as the leader of his team, and continues to receive high praise for how efficiently he runs the Louisville offense. The fact that Smith picks up fouls at an alarming rate is less indicative of how well he plays the game and a much stronger sign that Louisville plays pitbull defense. They simply do not give their opponents a chance to get going and will risk fouls to maintain the pace and climate they want.
Duke has been a perennial national championship contender for good reason, but this is just not their year. They are 3-0 SU and 2-1 ATS in the national tournament but are also 6-4 ATS in their last 10 games overall. They are perhaps the best equipped team to handle Louisville’s talent, but there is no way to say that they have the conditioning to keep up with Louisville’s torrid pace. That is really the big difference maker in this matchup.
This will be a tremendous matchup of two guards trying to make names for themselves. Seth Curry is coming off a booming 29 point effort, but Russ Smith has all the tools to expose his defensive inadequacies.
You just can’t bet against Louisville at this point. They’re a startling 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games and are simply playing at a level that no other team in the tournament can match. Coach K will have his team ready to take on this Elite Eight matchup but Louisville is at the head of the class for a damn good reason. They’ll end Duke’s run at the tournament, clear this miniscule betting line and advance to the Final Four with a championship in mind.
Elite Eight Betting Free Pick: Louisville -3.5