College Basketball Picks: Louisville Cardinals vs. Butler Bulldogs

No. 7 Louisville Cardinals at Butler Bulldogs
Saturday, 11/19/11, 2:00 PM EST, TV:  ESPN3
Opening Point Spread:  Louisville -3
Current Betting Line:  Louisville -4
Opening Total:  129.5
Current Total:  129.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Louisville Morehead State NCAA Tournament Preview
The Louisville Cardinals are slight road favorites against the Butler Bulldogs Saturday

Louisville is set to play its first road of the season and comes in with a perfect 2-0 record  that includes a 68-48 win over Lamar, holding the school to a first-half shooting percentage of .182.  The Cardinals will be the highest-ranked opponent to visit the Butler Bulldogs since No. 5 North Carolina came in 1992.  “We really are excited,” stated Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino.  “When you go to places like this fieldhouse, there’s a lot of nostalgia to it.  Louisville is 10-11 ATS on the road the last two-plus seasons.

The Cardinals tallied an 88-73 victory in last year’s meeting that was the first game at the KFC Yum! Center.  Louisville is getting major production out of a true freshman already, as forward Chane Behanan is the first known player in school history to produce double-doubles in his first two career games.  Junior guard Peyton Siva will not be in the lineup today as the team’s playmaker, sitting out with a severely sprained ankle.  It’s a big loss when considering that the program already lost guard Mike Marra for the entire 2011-12 campaign.

Butler continues its four-game home stand that started with a 57-46 win over Chattanooga, but the program has already suffered a loss, falling 80-77 in an overtime contest to Evansville as 3.5-point favorites.  The Bulldogs currently own a five-game homecourt winning streak and are 57-5 inside Hinkle Fieldhouse under the direction of head coach Brad Stevens.  The program has won 15 of 16 non-league affairs inside the venue that past three years.  Butler is 11-16 ATS at home the past two-plus seasons, while the ‘over’ is 15-12 in those contests.

The Bulldogs have played just two nationally-ranked opponents at home during the Stevens’ era, posting a 1-1 record in those contests.  Butler is led offensively by junior Andrew Smith, who is averaging 18.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game, as the 6-11 center was the team’s third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder a year ago.  For the third consecutive year, the program was picked to win the Horizon League, but no player ended up on the preseason All-League team.

Bettors will likely back the Cardinals due to their 7-2 ATS mark as a road favorite, while the Bulldogs are 2-3 ATS versus Big East Conference opponents.

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