Big East Tournament Semifinal Picks: #3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. #7 Louisville Cardinals

2012 Big East Conference Tournament
Friday, 3/9/12, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, TV: ESPN
#3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (22-10, 14-5 Big East) vs. #7 Louisville Cardinals (24-9, 11-8)
Madison Square Garden – New York, New York
Opening Line: Louisville -2
Current Line:
Louisville -2
Opening Total: 117.5
Current Total: 117.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Notre Dame Louisville Big East Tournament Betting Preview
Notre Dame's Eric Atkins hit a huge 3-pointer in overtime on Thursday to help beat the spread.

The seventh-seeded Louisville Cardinals are looking to follow the same path to the Big East Conference tournament championship game that they took last year.  Another semifinal win for the Cardinals (24-9, 11-8) over the 23rd-ranked and third-seeded Notre Dame Fighting Irish (22-10, 14-5) on Friday night would send them back to the title game at Madison Square Garden for the third time in four seasons.

Last year, No. 3 seed Louisville (-2, O/U 117.5) topped No. 2 Notre Dame 83-77 in overtime, one of four straight meetings that have gone to an extra session.  The Fighting Irish won the only meeting between the teams during this past regular season 67-65 in OT on the road as 12.5-point underdogs.  The Big East’s Most Improved Player Jack Cooley had a game-high 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Notre Dame, as the dog covered for the fourth time in five meetings.

The Cardinals reached this year’s semifinals by virtue of an 84-71 upset of No. 2 Marquette on Thursday, beating the Golden Eagles in the quarterfinals for the second time in a row.  Louisville point guard Peyton Siva ran the team’s offense well and also played great defense, scoring 18 points, grabbing eight rebounds, dishing out six assists and totaling four steals.  Kyle Kuric scored a team-high 20 points but made just 7 of 18 shots from the field, including 2 of 8 from 3-point range.

Later in the night, the Irish fought their way back and avoided the upset bug by knocking out No. 6 South Florida 57-53 in OT.  They barely covered the spread as 2.5-point favorites, using a 3-pointer by Eric Atkins to go up by four with 30 seconds remaining in the game.  Notre Dame had trailed 20-8 in the first half before battling back after the intermission to take a 42-41 lead late and then settling for a 45-45 tie at the end of regulation.  Atkins scored just six points in the game while Jerian Grant and Pat Connaughton both tied for the team lead with 12 apiece.

Despite the victory, the Irish have failed to cover three of their last four games and obviously needed a little luck to get the one win against the spread.  The OVER has cashed in their last two games and in each of the past seven meetings with the Cardinals, who had seen the total finish UNDER in five straight before going OVER against Marquette in the quarterfinals.

The winner will face the winner between No. 1 Syracuse and No. 4 Cincinnati on Saturday at 9:00 p.m. (ET) for the title.

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