Saturday March 17 9:40 p.m. EST on TBS
NCAA Basketball Spread: Louisville -1
The third round of the NCAA Tournament will feature some great matchups, and this one is one of the best. The oddsmakers have installed Louisville as a one-point favorite over the Lobos of New Mexico in this one. New Mexico won the Mountain West Tournament, while Louisville won the Big East Tournament in Madison Square Garden. Expect this to be one of the best games of the day.
New Mexico has really flown under the radar this year. The Lobos are 23-5 against the spread in their last 28 games overall. Steve Alford’s team is built to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, but they definitely have a difficult matchup here. Depth is a major strength for this team. Nine players average at least 13 minutes per game. Drew Gordon was labeled an underachiever early in his career, but he is turning into an impressive leader for New Mexico. Gordon averages 13.5 points and 11 boards per game. Kendall Williams is a very underrated point guard. Williams leads the team in assists and steals, and he averages 12.1 points per game.
The Lobos have seven guys on their team who shoot at least 35% from beyond the arc. As a team New Nexico shoots 39.3% from three-point range. Defensively, the Lobos are terrific. Opponents are shooting just 38.2% against this team this season. New Mexico is very strong in the post, and they often dominate the glass.
Louisville got red hot in New York City, and Rick Pitino’s team will look to carry that through the tournament like UConn did last season. The Cardinals have been using their full court pressure to make opponents very uncomfortable. I fully expect to see the pressure again in this one. The Cardinals have been inconsistent offensively this year, but the defense has been tremendous. Opponents have made just 37.9% of their shots against Louisville this year. Gorgui Dieng sits in the middle of the paint and swats away shots. Dieng has 113 blocks on the year. Louisville’s guards are all very athletic, and it is tough to get past them with the dribble.
Offensively, Kyle Kuric leads the team in scoring at 13.1 points per game. Kuric is a 6’4 guard who can score in a large variety of ways. Chris Smith is the team’s best three-point shooter at 39%. Peyton Siva isn’t much of a scorer, but he is a terrific distributor and team leader. Freshman Chane Behanan has been a major factor in the low post as well. The Cardinals need Behanan to be great in this game.
Both of these teams play terrific defense, and both of them have plenty of depth. The tempo should be pretty quick here. I think the Lobos have a good shot to pull of the minor upset.
Free College Basketball Pick: New Mexico +1
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