Conference tournaments are in full swing, and we have a ton of intriguing college basketball matchups to look forward to on Thursday night. The jam-packed evening slate of games will see many Top 25 squads in action. We’ll be focusing on three of them for individual wagers, and we’ll also kick things up a notch by including all of them on a single parlay ticket.
Our first game is an intriguing ACC showdown. The Louisville Cardinals survived their opening round game yesterday over Notre Dame, and their reward is a date with the #3 North Carolina Tar Heels. These two clubs met twice during the regular season with each side notching a road victory. The Tar Heels are pretty big favorites for the rubber match.
We head to Madison Square Garden for game two. The St. John’s Red Storm handled business versus DePaul yesterday, and they’ll now move on to square off with the #23 Marquette Golden Eagles. The Red Storm holds a pair of victories over the Golden Eagles, a team which closed out the regular season with four straight losses.
Our final game will see the Syracuse Orange and the #5 Duke Blue Devils. The Orange could be shorthanded for this one, as Tyus Battle is questionable after sitting out the last game due to injury. The Blue Devils are expected to welcome Zion Williamson back tonight after a five-game absence with his own injury issues.
A trio of solid games plus the rest of the jam-packed slate should make for a fun evening of hoops action. Let’s take a look at all of our selected contests in full detail, starting with the first of the big ACC showdowns.
*Betting odds provided by: Sportsbetting.ag
Louisville Cardinals vs. North Carolina Tar Heels, 7:00 PM EST, ESPN
Louisville vs. North Carolina pick:
The Cardinals were 7.5-point favorites for yesterday’s tilt with the Fighting Irish. They delivered one of their finest performances of the season in a 75-53 win. Louisville struggled to close out the regular season while dropping four of their last five.
It was a different story for the Tar Heels, as they wrapped up ACC play by ripping off nine straight wins. Included over that span was a pair of wins over Duke. North Carolina shared a piece of the regular season crown with Virginia, as both clubs were 16-2 in ACC play.
Louisville had trouble with ranked conference foes during the regular season while going just 3-5 and dropping their last four against those programs. The team stood at 7-1 in ACC play on January 30, but they lost seven of their last ten games to finish up with a mark of 10-8 in the conference.
North Carolina fared much better against ACC rivals by going 16-2. The team’s lone blemishes in conference play came at the hands of Louisville and Virginia. After each of those two losses, the Tar Heels would rip off seven-game winning streaks.
The Tar Heels get the nod on offense, but Louisville is the stronger defensive squad. Jordan Nwora is the top option in the offense for the Cardinals. He’s averaging 17.5 points per contest and 7.7 boards. Dwayne Sutton contributes 10.1 points per game and 7.0 rebounds.
For North Carolina, Cameron Johnson leads the way with an average of 16.8 points per game. Coby White is next up with 16.3 points, and he tops the team with 4.1 assists per game. Luke Maye averages 14.6 points, and he’s the team’s leading rebounder with an average of 14.6.
The first meeting of the season came on North Carolina’s home floor back in January. The Cardinals walked away with a big 83-62 win. The rematch took place in Louisville the following month. This time around, the Tar Heels got some revenge with a 79-69 victory.
A split during the regular season points to an intriguing ACC quarterfinal matchup. Yesterday’s throttling of Notre Dame aside, Louisville has looked out of sync for the last six weeks. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels have been cruising. We’ll take North Carolina to win and cover.
St. John’s Red Storm vs. Marquette Golden Eagles, 7:00 PM EST, FS1
St. John’s vs. Marquette pick:
St. John’s was favored by 5.5 points for yesterday’s game with DePaul. They covered while handling business by a score of 82-74. While this was technically a neutral-site game, the team plays several home games a year at Madison Square Garden.
It was looking like it was Marquette’s year in the Big East. Then the bottom fell out in emphatic fashion. The team dropped its final four games in conference play, which left them one-game 1st place Villanova when all was said and done.
The Red Storm had success against the Big East heavyweights this season. The club went 3-1 in games versus Marquette and Villanova, but they were the only middle of the road versus the rest of the conference. St. John’s closed out the regular season with three straight losses to finish up with an 8-10 mark in Big East play.
The Golden Eagles were better than that at 12-6, but the skid at the end of the season was a big disappointment for a season that looked filled with promise. After pulling out a one-point home victory over Villanova in early February, the good times continued to roll as the team won three straight. However, they came crashing back to earth while dropping their final four contests.
These two squads are closely matched on offense, but Marquette is the stronger defensive team. Shamorie Ponds is the top option on offense for the Red Storm. He’s averaging 19.7 points per game and 5.3 dimes. Mustapha Heron adds in 14.6 points per game, while LJ Figueroa chips in with 14.6.
For the Golden Eagles, Markus Howard is the top threat for opponents to contend with. He brings an average of 25.0 points per game and 4.0 assists per contest to the table. Sam Hauser is the next option with averages of 14.8 points and 7.1 boards per game.
The first meeting of the season for these two programs took place in January on St. John’s home court. The Red Storm walked off the floor with an 89-69 victory. Marquette played host for the rematch the following month, but St. John’s was able to pull out a thrilling one-point win.
Despite St. John’s pair of wins in the regular season and Marquette’s better conference and overall records, these two squads are evenly matched. In the end, the game being held in Madison Square Garden amounts to a huge positive for the Red Storm. We see that being enough to push the club to a small upset.
Syracuse Orange vs. Duke Blue Devils, 9:00 PM EST, ESPN
Syracuse vs. Duke pick:
The Orange were without Battle yesterday, but it didn’t make much of a difference as the team rolled to a 73-59 victory over Pittsburgh. He’s questionable tonight as well, and that’s not welcome news as they prepare to square off with Duke.
Williamson is expected to be a go tonight for the Blue Devils. This will mark the first time the band has been back together since he went down to injury in the team’s home loss to North Carolina on February 20. Since that point, Duke is just 3-2.
Syracuse had a pretty solid month of January in ACC play by going 6-2, a span which included a victory over Duke. However, February wasn’t as kind. The team was 3-4 for the month, and they followed that up by winning just one of their final three games in March. Add it all up, and Syracuse finished well behind the pack in the loaded conference with a record of 10-8.
Duke was 11-1 in ACC play before Williamson’s injury and looking like the team to beat. A pair of losses to North Carolina and a road defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech silenced the team’s dreams of a regular season crown. Nonetheless, this is still one of the top teams in the nation, and we would expect they’ll have something to say about how the conference tournament shakes out.
The Blue Devils have a massive advantage on offense, but the teams are in the same neighborhood on defense. Battle’s 17.2 points per game are tops for Syracuse, but the team has other weapons to lean on if he can’t go. Oshae Brissett average 12.3 points per game, while Elijah Hughes adds in 13.5. Buddy Boeheim came on strong in yesterday’s win by dropping 20 points on Pittsburgh.
For Duke, RJ Barrett is the leading scorer with 23.4 points per game. Williamson is averaging 21.6 points and 8.8 boards per contest. Cam Reddish is the next biggest threat with 14.3 points per game. Tre Jones is the leader in helpers for this loaded squad with 5.3 assists per game, and he’s also chipping in with an average of 8.7 points for good measure.
The first meeting of the season for these two programs took place at Duke in January. The Orange stunned the Blue Devils and the world of college basketball as a whole with a 95-91 victory in overtime. The rematch came the following month before a jam-packed crowd in Syracuse. Duke handled business this time around with a 75-65 win.
Duke is a big 11.5-point favorite for tonight’s game. While we expect the talented team to win and advance, the Orange are far from pushovers. The absence of Battie would definitely sting, but we like Syracuse to keep it a little closer than expected as the Blue Devils work out some kinks in Williamson’s first game back.