The NCAA Final Four gets underway today as the Louisville Cardinals take on the Kentucky Wildcats. The game is scheduled for a 6:09 p.m. start time and it will be televised live on CBS. Currently the odds have Kentucky favored by 8.5 points with the total sitting at 137 points for the contest.
Free Analysis: One of college basketball’s fiercest rivalries figures to rise to an unprecedented level of intensity when the Cardinals and Wildcats meet in New Orleans for a berth in the national championship game. The Cardinals have saved their best work for late in the season. Louisville, which won the Big East tournament championship, rides an eight-game winning streak into New Orleans. Louisville is now 8-0 (SU and ATS) on a neutral court this season (4 Big East Tournament wins, 4 NCAA Tournament wins) thanks to a stifling defense, allowing just 56.3 PPG on 38.3% FG in these eight contests. Even though Florida shot 50% in the Elite Eight, the Cardinals held the Gators to 68 points. The Cardinals are now third in the nation in FG Pct. defense (38.0% FG), seventh in steals (8.9 SPG) and 22nd in defending the three (31.7% 3-pt FG). When these teams met on Dec. 31, the Cardinals had no starter score more than eight points as the five players combined for a mere 26 points on 8-of-35 shooting (22.9%). It was sophomore G Russ Smith (11.6 PPG) who kept them in the game with 30 points on 10-of-20 shooting (3-of-8 threes) off the bench. Smith was also the leading scorer in the Elite Eight win over Florida, tallying 19 points on 6-of-13 FG. Louisville is at its best when junior PG Peyton Siva (9.1 PPG, 5.6 APG) is on the court and not committing silly fouls. After a brilliant four-game Big East Tournament (13.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 5.8 APG) and a strong NCAA opener against Davidson (17 points, six assists), Siva has just 6.3 PPG (32% FG) in his past three contests. He has 15 fouls in the four tourney games, fouling out of two of those contests. But he is distributing the ball very well with 8.5 APG in his past two games. Kyle Kuric (12.7 PPG, 4.2 RPG) continues to underwhelm in the NCAA Tournament. He’s scoring 9.5 PPG, but has totaled just nine rebounds and two assists in 142 total minutes of playing time. Kentucky can beat you in so many ways. They score 77.9 PPG (15th in nation) on 48.8% FG (eighth in D-I), while allowing a mere 60.6 PPG on 37.5% FG, easily the best mark in the country. A good part of this suffocating defense is an interior that blocks a nation’s-most 8.6 shots per game and rebounds the basketball at a healthy +7.1 RPG margin (10th in nation). The Wildcats had six players score 8+ points in the 82-70 win over Baylor in the Elite Eight. Freshman C Anthony Davis (14.3 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 4.6 BPG) had the biggest impact with 18 points (6-of-9 FG), 11 boards and six blocks. Davis is now averaging 14.5 PPG, 11.0 RPG and 4.5 BPG in the NCAA Tournament, and he posted 18 points, 10 boards and six blocks against Louisville on New Year’s Eve. Fellow freshman F Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (12.0 PPG, 7.6 RPG) scored just 11 points in the first two NCAA games, but he has been tremendous in the past two contests with 21.5 PPG (56% FG, 14-of-14 FT) and 7.5 RPG. He completely dominated the Cardinals in their earlier meeting, throwing down 24 points with 19 rebounds.Kentucky’s backcourt tends to get overshadowed by its amazing frontcourt, but these guards sure can play. The team has surpassed 13 turnovers in a game just once in its past 22 contests, tallying 12 games of single-digit turnovers. Freshman PG Marquis Teague (10.0 PPG, 4.8 APG) has 14.5 PPG and 5.3 APG in the tourney and has come a long way since his subpar performance against Louisville (four points, 1-of-8 FG, four turnovers, five fouls). Sophomore SG Doron Lamb (13.6 PPG, 47% 3-pt FG), is the long-range threat who has seven straight double-figure scoring games. He’s averaging 16.8 PPG (9-of-15 threes) in the NCAA tourney. Kentucky beat the Cardinals 69-62 on New Year’s Eve in Lexington and owns a 29-14 lead in the series.
Free Pick: Ok Louisville plays great defense and they have not played a lot of high scoring games this year because of that defense, but I feel this one will be a bit high scoring. Louisville played Florida in their last game, which is another up an down team and 140 points were scored in that game. As I said they have a great defense and they have allowed just 54 ppg in their last 6 games, but prior to the last 6 games they did allow 71 points to a fast paced Marquette team and they allowed 68 points in their last game vs Florida, so they can be scored upon, with the right offensive team and that's just what Kentucky has. The Cats have been scoring at will in the tourney, as they have averaged 88 ppg on 53% shooting, while for the year they have averaged 77.9 ppg on 48% shooting. Let us also note that the Cats have scored 65 points from the FT line in their last 2 games on 81 attempts, so you can expect plenty of those cheap points here as well. No for the Cardinals they are not a great scoring or shooting team, but the Cats have not really played great defense in the tourney as they have allowed 74.3 ppg in the 4 games, while dating back to the SEC tourney they have allowed 70 points or more in 5 of heir last 6 games. I fee this will be an up and down game as the Cats are the better team and will get the pace where they want it. If Louisville wants to win or keep it close they will have to play at that pace. I feel this will be a bit easy win for Kentucky in a game that should put at least 140 points on the board.
Free Picks: Kansas vs Ohio State Bettinghttp://PregameVideos.com - Two of the top four defensive teams in NCAA and Will sight lines be a factor for these teams in the dome plus other factors college football bettors need to know about Kansas vs Ohio State (Saturday, March 31, 2012) from Pregame.com - Including predictions from Bryan Leonard and analysis from host Vegas Runner.