Louisville vs. Duke -1.5 (Total: 136.5)
Battle 4 Atlantis Championship Game
I’ve been looking forward to this tournament for months, as have many college hoops diehards, and we have not been disappointed. The loaded field of NCAA Tournament bound teams have all looked good (with the possible exception of Memphis… Josh Pastner has to be nervous watching this team barely function offensively and with the massive struggles of catalyst Joe Johnson), and Northern Iowa and VCU have displayed the mettle to serve warning that mid-majors are indeed going to be a factor in this year’s landscape.
The big conference guys have showed well also. Both Minnesota and Stanford notched quality wins yesterday and looked like NCAA Tournament teams and upper-tier teams in their respective difficult conferences.
However the big story is the game that everyone was hoping for; the game we get tonight, Duke versus Louisville, Coach K versus Rock Pitino, the sharp-shooting Blue Devils and the defensively smothering Cardinals matching up for the championship.
I could honestly see this game going one of two ways. The first, is Duke handling the pressure and getting steady, controlled games from Cook and Curry and running an efficient offense. The Blue Devils avoid turnovers and keep from getting too sped up by the Louisville pressure. They run their offense through Mason Plumlee, and when Louisville gets some foul trouble on Georgi Deng and are forced to bring help, Seth Curry and Rasheed Sulaimon shoot the Cards into a defecit and their less-efficient offense is unable to keep pace with the Duke firepower. Duke wins.
The second way this game unfolds is a little different. Louisville’s athleticism and pressure make life miserable for Quinn Cook and Seth Curry. They look surprisingly “tired” and a little slow against Peyton Siva’s lightning quickness. The nation’s best shot blocker Georgi Deng is able to body Plumlee and force him into tough shots and elimate the need to bring the double team. Louisville’s guard contest Duke’s perimeter shooters, forcing tough, contested shots and keeping Duke from going on any of their patented big runs. Louisville keeps the pace manageable and holds Duke to well under 60 points. Louisville wins the game.
I can see BOTH scenarios very plausibly playing out. Therefore, I am staying away from picking a winner in this game (gun to my head, I go Duke, but not betting it). I do however have a winning play I love in this game, the UNDER 136.5.
This season Louisville is holding opponents to just 37% shooting, and have forced at least 19 turnovers in every game. Granted, none of those teams were even close to as good as Duke, but I think time will show Missouri to be a tough ballclub; a #3-#5 seed in the tourney. They hammered them last night and made Phil Pressey look pedestrian.
Louisville has held opponents to an average of 53 points a game and held the high-octane Mizzou offense to just 61 points. I don’t see any way this game gets into the 70’s, and that’s what a total of 136.5 suggests. I think this one stays under by 10-15 points.
Take the under and just enjoy a really high level, March Madness caliber ballgame.
Free Pick: TOTAL UNDER 136.5