The Cardinals will go for their seventh straight win and a trip to the Final Four when they take on the Gators Saturday in the West Region championship. Where are we placing our NCAA basketball picks in this matchup?
The game will also pit teacher against
pupil as Rick Pitino faces his former assistant Billy Donovan for the seventh
time in the tourney.
NCAA Basketball odds boards currently list Florida at -1.5 with the matchup's total set at 131.5. Lets break down this matchup and decide where we can find the best value for our NCAA basketball picks.
Florida (26-10, 15-15 ATS) got 21 points from Bradley Beal in a 68-58 victory over Marquette. Beal
was 8 of 10 shooting and also had six rebounds, four assists, two steals and
two blocked shots. This is Florida’s
second straight trip to the regional final. Last year, the Gators lost
to Butler—one of the NCAA tournament’s great stories of 2010 and
As the story goes,
Donovan went against his mentor’s advice, quit a job on Wall Street then came
to be Pitino’s assistant. Now Donovan has two national titles and three trips
to the Final Four, compared to one championship and five Final Fours for his
old boss. Pitino is 6-0 against Donovan, and two of those were in
Louisville (29-9 SU, 21-13-1 ATS) advanced with a 57-44 win over No. 1 seed Michigan State. The game was
short on offense but heavy on defense, as the Cardinals smothered the Spartans.
It was another stellar performance from a team that was among the most
inconsistent teams in the nation this year, but caught fire at the right time.
The Cardinals have won four games in four days to earn the Big East championship
before beating Davidson and New Mexico to start the tournament.
Much of the credit
for Louisville’s success this season and in the previous 11 years should be
given to Pitino, who has posted some incredible postseason numbers.
Louisville has won
at least 20 games in all but one of Pitino’s 11 seasons with the Cardinals (they
had 19 his first year in 2001-02) and been to the NCAA tournament nine of the
last 10 years. Pitino has now coached in ten Sweet 16, going a perfect 10-0.
Lastly, he’s led three different schools to the national semifinals.
Sad end for Sparty
(29-8) became the first No. 1 seed to fall in this year’s tournament and the 44
points were the fewest scored by a top-seed in the shot-clock era and the
fewest ever in the tourney by an MSU team. The 28.6 percent shooting and 14
made field goals also were all-time tourney lows for Michigan State.
The Spartans were a
horrendous 14 of 49 shooting (28.6 percent) including a grizzly 5 of 21 from
3-point land (23.8 percent) and committed 15 turnovers. It was certainly not
the Michigan State team that won the Big Ten title and the top seed in the
No matter how many
teams you peruse, the box score it’s still hard to believe. The Spartans made
just 14 field goals. Louisville wasn’t much better connecting on 21 of 55
overall (38.2 percent) and 9 of 23 from beyond the arc (39.1 percent).
performance on the defensive end was no surprise. They’re ranked 27th
in the nation in fewest points allowed (60.6 points per game), second in field
goal percentage (37.6) and 16th against the 3-pointer (30.0)
superb play from freshman Chane Behanan and shot blocking specialist Gorgui
Dieng. Behanan was given the job on guarding Draymond Green (13 points, 16
rebounds) and held him to 1 of 9 shooting. It was on the offensive end where
Behanan really shined going 6 of 10 from the field for 15 points, while pulling with
eight rebounds. Dieng had nine rebounds and seven blocks which tied a school
take: Louisville’s run brings back memories of UConn’s drive to the title a
year ago. The Huskies struggled during the regular season but then won five
games in five days to get to the tournament where they ran the table. Maybe the
Cardinals are this year’s Huskies but even if they’re not, they still get my