College Basketball Picks: Northern Iowa Panthers vs. Louisville Cardinals

Northern Iowa Panthers vs. No. 2 Louisville Cardinals
Thursday, 11/22/12, 9:30 PM EST, TV:  NBC Sports Network
Opening Point Spread:  Louisville -9.5
Current Betting Line:  Louisville -9
Opening Total:  124.5
Current Total:  125.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Louisville Cardinals are primed to win the Battle 4 Atlantis on the defensive end

Northern Iowa is set to take part in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Thanksgiving Day, as the winner of this matchup will take on the winner of the Missouri Tigers and Stanford Cardinal contest.  The Panthers return four starters from last season’s 20-14 squad, as they come off a 72-47 win over North Dakota as 16-point home favorites.  “We do have some versatility to our team,” commented Panthers coach Ben Jacobson.  Northern Iowa is 4-2 ATS when playing on a neutral court the last two-plus seasons, which is important to consider when making your NCAA basketball picks on Thursday night.

The Panthers will certainly use this event as a measuring stick, considering all eight teams are either ranked or received votes in the preseason AP Top 25 poll.  Northern Iowa is 9-13 versus ranked opponents since Jacobsen joined the coaching staff in 2001-02.  Sophomore guard Deon Mitchell is the player to watch offensively, leading the program in averaging 17.7 points per game.

Louisville will play its first game away from the KFC Yum! Center in this affair, as it looks to build off its 80-39 blowout victory over the Miami (OH) RedHawks as 25-point home favorites last time out.  “We are a defensive team,” stated Cardinals coach Rick Pitino.  “We win with our defense.”  The Cardinals have forced 67 turnovers in their first three games, which has led to 84 of their 239 points on offense.  Louisville is 17-9 ATS in non-conference action since 2010, with the UNDER going 16-9 in that situation.

The Cardinals are one of nine programs nationally that have won 20 or more games in the past 10 seasons, as they will likely continue that streak with Peyton Siva running the show.  The senior point guard is averaging 7.7 points and 9.0 assists per game, while fellow guard Russ Smith leads the team in scoring 21.3 points per contest.  He has led the program in scoring in all three games this year, but will now face an opponent with a winning record for the first time this season.

Sports bettors will likely back the Cardinals due to their 5-0 ATS mark on a neutral floor with a total of 120 to 129.5, while the Panthers are 1-4 ATS versus Big East foes.

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