No. 15 Louisville Cardinals (9-3) at South Florida Bulls (5-8)
Sun Dome, Tampa, F.L., 7:00PM Eastern, Wednesday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The Louisville Cardinals suffered a disappointing stretch of basketball in the last two weeks. The Cardinals have fallen twice in their last 4 games and victim of upsets from Minnesota and UNLV. Louisville was ranked as high as number 3 to start the season, but has fallen to the number 23 spot since some dismal performances. However, the Cardinals look to get the ball rolling in the right direction when they travel down to Tampa for their first conference match-up of the season when they take on the South Florida Bulls. South Florida has really struggled this season with a 5-8 record. The Bulls did content with no. 11 Syracuse before losing by 5 points and they will attempt to hand the Cardinals their 3rd upset in recent weeks this Wednesday.
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Louisville has struggled due to the fact they are not shooting the ball very well as a team. The Cardinals rank towards the bottom half of the nation shooting 42.4% from the floor as a team. Louisville has a slower style of play that has contributed to a top 30 scoring defense that is only allowing 60 points per contest. South Florida is only averaging 61 points for the season and the Cardinals will try over power the Bulls by controlling the inside game. The big advantage Louisville holds is their ability to control the glass. Louisville is 13th in the nation in rebound averaging 38 boards per game. They will hold the strong edge over a South Florida team that is among the worse teams in America in terms of rebounding. The Cardinals will attempt to live up to their pre-season hype as one of the best teams in the Big East.
South Florida has really not played well on paper this season and those numbers have shown on the court. The Bulls are shooting 40% as a team which ranks them 277th in college basketball. South Florida remains out of the top 200 in every major offensive category and must find a way to make some more baskets. The Bulls have been held to 65 points or less in 7 of their eight losses this season. South Florida will try to find some answers and put the ball in the basket. South Florida has been effective at keeping other teams scoring to a minimum. The Bulls rank in the upper side of the nation holding teams to a mere 63 points per contest. Louisville has struggled in low-scoring games this season and the Bulls will try to utilize that to their advantage.
Bookmakers opened the betting line favoring Louisville and their number 23 ranking by an even 10 points. Early betting lines are favoring the Cardinals and some have moved the line to 10.5 and possibly 11 or more by game time.
For the Louisville Cardinals to control the game they must maintain a duo of playmakers in South Floridas Dominique Jones and Jesus Verdejo. Jones leads the time averaging 17.5 points per contest and adding 4 rebounds per game. Verdejo plays a big role as well averaging 15.6 points per game. These two standouts really carry the Bulls and the rest of the team feeds off their performance. South Florida will try and rally around Verdejo and Jones to score their first victory over Louisville since 2001.
The Cardinals do not have a sole leader on offense, but rather feed off a trio of solid players. Samardo Samuels, Earl Clark, and Terrence Williams are all averaging 12-13 points per game while also combining for a strong 25 boards per contest. Louisville will have the help from a strong bench that averages 15 more points per game compared to the South Florida bench. Louisville looks to pick up their first victory in the Big East down in Tampa in front of the nation Wednesday night.
Louisville is 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games. However, the Cardinals sport a strong 6-2 ATS record in their last 8 games on the road. The under has been reach in 11 of Louisvilles last 16 games. South Florida is 4-2 ATS in their last 6 games at home while going on the under total in 5 of those last 6 games at home as well. The Bulls are 0-7 SU against the Cardinals and 2-10 ATS in their last 12 games against the Cardinals.
Jays Pick - I will stay away from the spread in this game, but would consider an under play for any total 120 and higher.