Louisville Cardinals at Miami Hurricanes (-2.5)
For a team that isn’t tournament bound, the Louisville Cardinals (22-6, 11-4 ACC) sure are playing a big part in shaping the bracket. After quelling Duke’s uprising last weekend, the Cards will once again look to knock off a top-25 team when they visit the Miami Hurricanes (22-5, 11-4 ACC) today at the BankUnited Center (2:00 PM Eastern).
Riding a three-game winning streak, Louisville has battled their way up the ACC standings, and would grab sole possession of second-place with a win. And the Cards are motivated to keep climbing: finishing first in the conference is the only accolade they can chase, thanks to a self-imposed postseason ban for this year.
With his college career coming to an end on March 5, senior Damion Lee has been on the warpath for the Cards. In the team’s 71-64 win over Duke, Lee had 24 points and four steals, leading Louisville back from a 13-point deficit.
Miami has been doing some work of their own, though, winning six of their last seven (the lone loss coming to UNC). Their latest win, a 64-61 squeaker over no. 3 Virginia, means more shakeups in the rankings this week. With North Carolina and Virginia set to play each other this afternoon, the Hurricanes could rocket up the rankings if they edge out another win.
But it won’t be easy for Miami: Louisville has a similarly stingy D to the Cavaliers, allowing 60.8 points per game and averaging 7.3 steals and 5.1 blocks per night. The Cards are a hair better in most offensive categories, too, averaging 77 points a game and shooting 47.9-percent from the field.
But the biggest difference maker in this game might be location.
Miami is 15-1 in front of their home crowd this season, including four wins over ranked opponents. Against the number, the Canes are a little less dominant – but still very profitable – at home, going 11-3-1 ATS. Louisville is 4-5 straight up, and an even worse 2-7 ATS, on the road this season.
It should be a tight affair, but in a game that Miami needs for more than just show, I’d roll with the Hurricanes to get it done in their final home game of the year.
Pick: Miami (-2.5).
(Photo credit: Luis Blanco (Originally uploaded to Flickr. Photo has been cropped)[https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/])
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