Pittsburgh at Louisville Picks and College Basketball Odds
by Alan Matthews - 1/28/2013
Is it time to worry about Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals, or has the team simply hit a wall while awaiting March Madness?
As of this writing, the Cardinals (16-4, 4-3 Big East) are No. 5 in the polls, but they certainly will drop out of the Top 10 when Monday’s new polls are released. Louisville was beaten 53-51 at Georgetown on Saturday, the team’s third straight loss (0-3 ATS). How unusual is that? U of L is the first team to lose three straight after starting the streak ranked No. 1 since Duke in January 1989. If you are wondering, the Blue Devils team did make it to the Final Four. It’s Louisville’s longest skid since January 2010.
Star guard Peyton Siva, the preseason Big East Player of the Year, was held scoreless against Georgetown. It was his first game with zero points since the Cardinals lost to Cincinnati in the 2010 Big East Tournament in Siva’s freshman season. Siva took only two shots on Saturday and was in foul trouble. Pitino made a change to his starting lineup for that game, inserting Luke Hancock for leading scorer Russ Smith. Both players finished with 12 points, and Pitino said he plans to stick with the new lineup. Smith has been struggling from the field lately, going 28-for-84 (33.3 percent) in the past six games.
Pittsburgh (17-4, 5-3) is having a nice bounce-back season after massively disappointing a year ago. The Panthers started Big East play 1-3, but Saturday’s 93-55 blowout of DePaul was the team’s fourth straight win (2-2 ATS). Central Michigan transfer Trey Zeigler led Pitt with 18 points, his most as a Panther. The margin of victory was the biggest ever for Pittsburgh in a Big East game, eclipsing a 36-point rout over West Virginia in 2003. The Panthers already have surpassed last year’s win total of 16.
This is the only scheduled meeting of the regular season between the teams. Soon they will be competing as ACC foes.
Pittsburgh at Louisville Betting Story Lines
I’ll be watching this ESPN game just to see to future NBA centers go at it in Pitt freshman Steven Adams and Louisville junior Gorgui Dieng. Don’t think basketball is an international game? Adams is from New Zealand and Dieng from Senegal.
Thanks largely to Adams, Pitt outrebounded DePaul 58-34 (a season high in boards) and had a whopping 48-16 advantage in points in the paint. The seven-footer, who is still pretty raw, had nine points and a career-high-tying 14 rebounds. His nine defensive rebounds were a new career high. Pittsburgh doesn’t count on Adams to score much as he hasn’t been in double digits in the past nine games. Adams, who wears size 20 shoes, reminds me a bit of former NBA center and Aussie Luc Longley.
Dieng, meanwhile, is very similar to former NBA All-Star Dikembe Mutombo, and Dieng is NBA-ready right now defensively. He’s also very raw offensively and averages 9.1 points per game, mostly on put-backs and the like. But he’s a beast on defense, grabbing 9.8 rebounds per game and blocking 2.2 shots. Dieng missed seven games earlier this season with a broken wrist.
Don’t expect much offense as Pittsburgh ranks No. 6 nationally in allowing 54.5 points per game and Louisville is No. 15 at 57.8. Pitt leads the nation in assists/turnovers ratio (1.76), but Louisville is in the Top 3 nationally in turnover margin and steals.
Pittsburgh at Louisville College Basketball Betting Odds and Key Trends
At BetOnline, Louisville is listed as a six-point favorite with the total at 123. Pittsburgh is 6-8 ATS (2-2 on road) and 9-1 “over/under” (3-1 on road). Louisville is 10-10 ATS (4-6 at home) and 8-6 O/U (3-1 at home).
The Panthers are 1-4 ATS in their past five games after a win. They are 2-8 ATS in their past 10 games following a win of more than 20 points. Louisville is 4-1 ATS in its pat five home games vs. a team with a winning road record. The Cards are 1-6 ATS in their past seven after a loss. The over is 4-0 in Pitt’s past four Monday games. The over is 5-1 in Louisville’s past six home games. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings in Louisville.
Pittsburgh at Louisville Picks and Betting Predictions
Even though it’s still only January, Pitino said after Saturday’s loss that the Pitt matchup is a must-win game: “Because four (in a row), now you're on the verge of getting a sub-.500 record in the league and you don't want to mess with that." But Louisville fans shouldn’t fret too much. Last year’s team lost four times in five games in one stretch and had another in which it lost four of six. That group reached the Final Four.
Louisville has won three straight in this series and leads all-time, 7-5. Last year’s matchup in Kentucky was close, with the Cards winning, 57-54. Smith led Louisville with 18 points. The Cards were eight-point favorites with a total at 129.5.
If Pitino has a sense of urgency, then certainly his players will. I can’t see the Cards losing a second straight at home – their first loss in this skid was at the KFC Yum! Center against Syracuse. Plus, I just don’t see Pitt scoring enough. Its leading scorer, Talib Zanna, hasn’t reached double digits in the past five games. Give the points and take the under.
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