Pittsburgh Panthers at Louisville Cardinals, KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, KY
Sunday, February 27, 2011, 2 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Louisville -1
Current Line: Louisville -1.5
Opening Total: 134.5
Current Total: 133.5
Money Line: Louisville -125 / Pitt +105
The fourth-ranked Pittsburgh Panthers (25-3, 13-2 Big East) will look to avoid dropping two straight conference games on the road and hand the 16th-ranked Louisville Cardinals (21-7, 10-5) their first home loss in league play when they square off on Sunday. The Panthers rebounded from their first Big East road loss at St. John’s by beating West Virginia 71-58 on Thursday while the Cardinals (-1.5) will be trying to complete a perfect conference home record at 8-0 with a win.
Louisville has won consecutive games for the first time since January 29, knocking off Connecticut 71-58 and Rutgers 55-37 following a 63-54 loss at Cincinnati. The total has gone UNDER in the last three games for the Cardinals, who held the Scarlet Knights to 29.5 percent shooting from the field (13 of 44) on Tuesday. Preston Knowles led the way with a game-high 14 points and team-high eight rebounds while Kyle Kuric added 11 points and seven boards.
Defense has been the difference for Louisville in winning three of its last four games, limiting opponents to an average of 56.8 points during that stretch. Of course Pittsburgh knows all about that concept, as the Panthers have held five of their last six opponents to 60 points or less.
Pitt has won six of its last seven games and had a five-game winning streak snapped with a last-second road loss to the Red Storm last Saturday. The Panthers have seen their last four games go UNDER the total and rallied back from a 31-30 halftime deficit against the Mountaineers. The team shot 57.4 percent from the field (27 of 47) and also owned significant edges in rebounding (31-25), assists (23-11) and blocks (8-4) en route to the victory.
That could be trouble for Louisville if the 3-point shots are not falling against one of the Big East’s top defenses. The Cardinals average 24.1 attempts per game from 3-point range, which is the highest in the conference. They have made more than any team in the league (249) and are making nearly 37 percent of the shots they take from beyond the arc.
However, Pitt is the top shooting team in the Big East from 3-point range at just over 38 percent behind point guard Ashton Gibbs, who is making nearly 49 percent of his 3-point attempts. Gibbs scored nine points against West Virginia after totaling 26 against St. John’s in his first two games back from a knee injury that sidelined him for three games.
Louisville and Pittsburgh have alternated wins and losses in the last seven meetings both straight-up and against the spread. The OVER is 3-1 in the last four games between the teams.
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