March 9, 2017
There are two picks today.
#1: Take Louisville -2 spread against Duke for 3% of the bankroll.
This is a matchup that we believe will certainly favor the Cardinals. Duke comes into this contest fresh off a 79-72 victory over the Clemson Tigers in the opening round of ACC play, that being said, Duke did look somewhat vulnerable at times during that contest. This will also be a rather quick turnaround game for the Blue Devils having played yesterday and will once again take the floor just 24 hours later. The Cardinals will certainly be the more rested team in this contest and that could pay dividends late in the contest.
The Louisville Cardinals are a team that relies heavily on their defense. They are currently ranked 37th in the nation in defensive scoring as they have been holding their opponents to just 65.4 points per game on 39% shooting from the field. Given that the ACC has been (by far) the toughest conference in the league, that certainly is a respectable number. The Cardinals have also been excellent at defending the three-point shot which is something that has been a staple of the Blue Devils offense this season. Louisville is holding teams to just 30% from beyond the arc. As we have seen many times this season, Duke tends to struggle when their long-ball is not falling and if the Cardinals can keep them off the three-point line, that could be the deciding factor in this contest.
Grayson Allen has also been struggling and it has become apparent that he has been hindered by his ankle injury. Allen is a key part of this Duke offense as he is third on the team in scoring. He stretches the court and forces defenders to choose whether he is driving to the basket or pulling up for a three-point attempt. His ability to stab with his foot simply isn't there as he went scoreless for nearly 12 minutes against Clemson. Duke will need all hands-on deck if they hope to upend the Cardinals and unless Allen goes off for 20+, we simply don't see that happening.
The style of play that the Cardinals employ is an absolute physical and draining style for opponents. They force teams to earn each and every point and we believe their pressure defense is eventually going to wear down Duke in the later stages of this game. The Blue Devils should already come into this game with some tired legs and we expect that to catch up with them as the game goes on. Louisville has shown their ability on the offensive side of the ball as they average over 77 points per game on offense. Duke has been inconsistent defensively this season and has typically struggled with the more well-rounded, higher scoring offenses this season. Louisville will also hold a rebounding edge over the Blue Devils (on paper) and if they can attack on the glass and hold the Blue Devils to single shot possessions, their offense should be able to do enough to come away with the win. This will likely be a close game, but the added rest will be the difference maker in this contest as late free-throws give Louisville the win and cover.
#2: Take Providence +3 spread (by the half point) against Creighton for 3% of the bankroll.
They say that one person does not make a team, however, we believe the Creighton Blue Jays may have an argument for that statement. It has been a tale of two teams for the Blue Jays this season. Through their first 19 games they were an impressive 18-1 and gave the appearance that they were poised to make a deep run come March. All of that changed however when star guard, Maurice Watson tore his ACL on January 16th. Since then, the team has gone just 5-7 and now could potentially miss out on the NCAA Tournament completely. Creighton is still a potent offensive team, even without Watson on the floor, however where they have really struggled since the loss has been on the defensive side of the ball. Creighton is simply not playing good team defense without Watson there to anchor them and we believe that is going to be their downfall in this contest.
The Providence Friars come into this contest as one of the hottest teams in the country. They come into this contest on a 6-game winning streak and even though they are likely in the NCAA Tournament, a loss in this contest could make for some worrisome people come Selection Sunday. Providence has been a defense-first team all season long and are holding opposing squads to just 67 points per game. The play extremely well at both ends of the court but the Friars definitely want to slow this game down as much as possible. If Providence can stop Creighton from getting out and running, then the Friars can try and put this game away early as they do not want to get into a shootout with a team as potent as Creighton.
The Friars hold a victory over Creighton in Omaha this season and should have the advantage in a neutral setting in this contest. At this point, these two teams are heading in opposite directions and we believe the wrong team is actually favored in this contest. The Blue Jays will need someone to step up and make the critical plays at the end of the game and we don't think that happens. Providence's defense holds this Creighton offense under 70 points and comes away with a nice underdog victory to move on in the tournament. Even if we are incorrect with our assumptions and Creighton finds some way to win this game, we believe it will be by the narrowest of margins in which the points will come into play.
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