NCAA Basketball Spread: Off
This would typically be a battle between two of the top teams in the Big East, but Pittsburgh simply isn’t performing up to expectations this year. Louisville has been a little inconsistent as well, but the Cardinals come into this one ranked 21st in the country. Pittsburgh has lost seven straight games going into this contest. Pittsburgh is generally a tough place for opponents to play, but can the Panthers make life difficult on the Cardinals this Saturday? Let’s take a closer look at this matchup.
Louisville has suffered some major injuries this year. Mike Marra is out for the season with a knee injury. Rakeem Buckles just returned from injury, but he will be out at least a year with another serious ACL injury. Kyle Kuric is listed as doubtful for this one due to an ankle injury. Kuric is the team’s leading scorer this year. It will be up to the backcourt duo of Russ Smith and Chris Smith to pick up the scoring load this weekend. Peyton Siva is a solid point guard, but he isn’t a reliable scorer. Chane Behanan is a talented freshman who has shown flashes of brilliance this year. Gorgui Dieng isn’t a great scorer, but he is a great presence in the low post. Dieng averages nine boards per game, and he already has 62 blocks this year. Louisville ranks third in the nation in field goal percentage defense. The Cardinals rely heavily on their half court defense.
It has been a forgettable season thus far for Pittsburgh. Jamie Dixon’s squad is accustomed to being at the top of the Big East, but this year they have been struggling to beat anyone. The team’s December 23rd home loss to Wagner started their current seven-game losing streak. One thing Pittsburgh has continued to do well this year is rebound. The Panthers have four players averaging at least 5.8 boards per game. Ashton Gibbs leads the team in scoring, but he has struggled mightily from the floor. Gibbs is hitting just 38.3% of his shots from the field. Tray Woodall is the team’s second option on offense, but he has missed the last four games with an abdominal injury. Woodall is listed as questionable for this one. The most surprising part of Pittsburgh’s poor play this year has been their lack of execution on defense. Opponents are hitting 44% from the floor and scoring 66.3 points per contest.
If you are looking for a fast-paced high scoring game I don’t think this will be the game for you. Both offenses will likely struggle in this one, but I think Louisville wins due to their half court defense. Look for an ugly win for the Cardinals.
Basetball Prediction: Louisville 65 Pittsburgh 59
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