No. 13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-3) +6.5 at No. 23 Louisville Cardinals (11-3) -6.5 Louisville, K.Y., 7:00PM Eastern, Monday
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The brutal schedule of the Big East is among the harshest in all of college basketball. The Big East broke their own record a week ago placing 9 teams in the Top 25. The time has now come for the strongest conference in college basketball to start conference play meaning there are not any easy games left on the schedule. The no. 13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel to Louisville in a battle of Top 25 opponents. The no. 23 Cardinals are still perfect in the Big East with a 2-0 record and are fresh off a nail biting win against Villanova. The Fighting Irish will be coming in with some momentum as well considering they took down a strong Georgetown team 73-67 one week ago from tonight.
Notre Dame can flat out score points. The Fighting Irish sports one of the fastest scoring offenses in America. Notre Dame is averaging a solid 82 points per game that ranks 9th in the nation. This could be a lot of trouble for a Louisville team that has not performed well against strong offensive teams. The Irish are getting it done on the offensive side of the court averaging 37 rebounds per game and shooting nearly 47% as a team from the floor. The Fighting Irish will look to improve their Big East record to the 4-1 mark and keep a solid position in the polls.
Louisville was ranked as high as the number 3 position in the nation this season. However, the Cardinals have faced some unexpected road blocks with upsetting losses from UNLV, Minnesota, and Western Kentucky. The Cardinals did get a quality win in their last outing against Villanova, but will desperately need to back it up with a victory over Notre Dame. The Cardinals are averaging 74 points per game this contest. While that is not a low point total, it is lower than some of the top teams around the Big East. The Cardinals have done well on the defensive side of the court only allowing opposing teams to shoot a mere 38% from the floor that ranks 20th in the country. The Cardinals will get a chance to slow down a talented scoring offense from Notre Dame and capture a victory on Monday night before their showdown with no. 1 Pittsburgh on Friday night.
Vegas opened the betting lines favoring the Cardinals by a surprising 6.5 points. Some internet sportsbooks already have the game favoring Louisville by an even 7 points and the lines have been moving in the way of the Cardinals with every change. Catch the early odds before the betting lines change again.
Notre Dames fast pace offense is led by the play of junior sensation Luke Harangody. Harangody is averaging 24.5 points per game this season that is as strong as any individual in America. Harangody ranks 4th in scoring in all of college basketball and has scored 30 plus points in his last two outings. Harangody has also been very impressive on the glass this season averaging a stout 12.7 rebounds that rank 2nd in America. Harangody could very well be considered the best overall player in the country putting up big numbers against the toughest competition. Harangody will try to lead the Fighting Irish to what some would consider a mild upset over the Cardinals.
Louisville is led by a trio of big men. Earl Clark, Samardo Samuels, and Terrence Williams have all been important factors for the Cardinals this season. These three standouts combine to be responsible for 25 rebounds per game that leads one of the best rebounding teams in America. Louisville ranks 18th in the nation with 38 rebounds per game and the Cardinal big men will need to control the glass again this Monday night. These three players also contribute to 40 points on average for the Cardinals that make up well over 50% of the entire teams scoring. For the Cardinals to have a big night, the inside guys will have to stand tall against the Irish.
Both teams have split the books this season with Notre Dame at the 5-5 ATS mark and Louisville at the 7-7 ATS record. Head to head Notre Dame has won the last 3 contest ATS over the Cardinals. In those 3 games the Fighting Irish were underdogs as well.
Jays Pick - Louisville has been anything but impressive this year and I think the troubles continue. Take ND + 7.