Final Four Betting Preview: #1 Louisville Cardinals vs #9 Wichita State Shockers

2013 NCAA Tournament – National Semifinals
#1 Louisville Cardinals vs #9 Wichita State Shockers
Saturday, April 6, 2013, 6:09 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
Opening Line: Louisville -10
Current Line: Louisville -10
Opening Total: 130 1/2
Current Total: 132 1/2
Opening Money Line: Louisville -650 / Wichita State +525
Current Money Line: Louisville -625 / Wichita State +500

Louisville is a 10 point favorite against Wichita St in the Final Four Saturday in Atlanta.
Louisville is a 10 point favorite against Wichita St in the Final Four Saturday in Atlanta.

The 33-5 Louisville Cardinals have won 14 straight games. The last loss for the Cardinals came February 9th at Notre Dame 104-101 in 5 overtimes. The Cardinals were the #1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, and were the only #1 seed to advance to the Final Four in Atlanta. It is the second straight year the Cardinals are in the Final Four, and the 10th overall. Louisville hasn’t won the national championship since 1986.

As if the powerful Cardinals needed more motivation, they got it when Guard Kevin Ware suffered a gruesome broken leg in the first half of the Cardinals’ 85-63 win over Duke in the Midwest regional final Sunday in Indianapolis. The reserve guard averaged 16.6 minutes a game.

The Cardinals will take on the #9 seed 30-8 Wichita St Saturday in the Final Four. The Shockers became the second #9 seed to advance to the Final Four (Penn, 1979) and also the first team from the Missouri Valley Conference in the Final Four since Larry Bird and Indiana St, also in 1979. The Shockers are playing in their second ever Final Four, but haven’t been since 1965. The winner of Wichita St and Louisville will play either Michigan or Syracuse in Monday’s national championship game. Louisville leads the series against Wichita St 19-5, but they haven’t played since 1975. Both teams were members of the Missouri Valley Conference  from 1964-1975.

Louisville is coached by Rick Pitino, who reportedly will be a member of the 2013 Naismith Hall of Fame class to be announced Monday. The Cardinals went 14-4 in the Big East and tied with Marquette and Georgetown for the regular season title. Louisville beat Syracuse in the Big East Championship game 78-61.

In the NCAA Tournament, Louisville beat #16 North Carolina A&T 79-48 in the second round and #8 Colorado St 82-56 in the third round, both in Lexington, Kentucky. In the Midwest regionals in Indy, Louisville beat #12 Oregon 77-69 in the semifinals before routing Duke in the Elite 8. Louisville took control of a close game against Duke with a 13-2 run midway through the second half.

Wichita St is coached by Gregg Marshall. The Shockers were second in the MVC with a 12-6 record behind 13-5 Creighton. Wichita St lost to Creighton 68-65 in the MVC Championship game.

The Shockers were given the #9 seed in the West region. WSU beat #8 Pitt 73-55 in the second round, before upsetting #1 seed Gonzaga 76-70 in the third round, both in Salt Lake City. Wichita St beat #13 LaSalle 72-58 in the West regional semifinals in Los Angeles. The Shockers had a 20 point lead against #2 Ohio St in the regional final last Saturday with 11 minutes to go in the second half. The Buckeyes cut the deficit to 3 points with less than 2 minutes to go, but Wichita St held on for the 70-66 win.

Louisville has losses to Duke in a tournament in the Bahamas, at home to Syracuse, and at Villanova, Georgetown, and Notre Dame. The Cardinals have key wins over Northern Iowa & Missouri in the Bahamas, Illinois St, College of Charleston, at Memphis, Western Kentucky, at Kentucky, Providence, South Florida twice, Seton Hall twice, at UConn, Pitt, Marquette, at Rutgers, St. John’s, at Depaul, and at Syracuse and Cincinnati,  Villanova and Notre Dame twice. The Cardinals are 23-15 ATS and the total is 18-14 this season.

Louisville is outscoring teams 74-58 this season. The Cardinals are 32nd or better in both categories. Louisville is shooting 45.6% from the field and 32.8% from 3 point range. The Cardinals make 70.9% of their free throws. Louisville averages 37 rebounds per game and allows 30.2. Cardinal opponents are shooting 39.2% from the field and 31.5% from 3 point range. The Cardinals are #27 in opponent’s field goal percentage. Louisville averages 15 assists, 11 steals, 4 blocks and 13 turnovers.

Guard Russ Smith averages 18.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. Center Gorgui Dieng averages 10.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.4 steals, and 2.5 blocks per game. Guard Peyton Siva averages 9.9 points, 2.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 2.2 steals per game.Forward Chane Behanan averages 9.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.  Guard /forward Wayne Blackshear averages 7.8 points, and 3.2 rebounds. Luke Hancock averages 7.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists, and 1 steal per game. Montrezi Harrell and Stephan Van Treese make up the rest of the rotation without Ware. Ware scored less than 5 points a game, but he was the primary reserve to spell Smith and Siva. Center Mangok Mathiang and guard Mike Marra have missed the entire season.

Wichita St has losses at Tennessee, Evansville twice, Indiana St, at Northern Iowa, at Southern Illinois, and Creighton twice. The Shockers have wins at Virginia Commonwealth, DePaul and Iowa in a tournament in Cancun, Tulsa, at Air Force, Southern Miss, Northern Iowa, Drake twice, Bradley twice, Southern Illinois, Illinois St three times, Missouri St 3 times, Creighton, at Indiana St, and Detroit. The Shockers are 19-14-2 ATS and the total is 14-15.

Wichita St is outscoring teams 70-61 this season. The Shockers are shooting 44.1% from the field and 34% from 3 point range. WSU makes 69.8% of their free throws. Wichita St averages 38.4 rebounds a game and allow just 26.1 per game. The Shockers are #7 in rebounds allowed in the country and #26 in rebounding. WSU opponents are shooting 39.3% from the field and 32.1% from 3 point range. The Shockers average 14 assists, 7 steals, 5 blocks, and 13 turnovers per game.

WSU Forward Cleanthony Early averages 13.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. Forward Carl Hall averages 12.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. Guard Malcolm Armstead averages 10.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.9 steals a game. Guard Ron Baker averages 8.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. Guard Demetric Williams averages 7.6 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Guard Evan Wessel averaged 5.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.9 assists a game. He is out for the season with a finger injury. Tekele Cotton averages 6.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.7 assists, and a steal. Nick Wiggins, Fred VanVleet, Jake White, and Ehimen Orukpe also get significant minutes in the rotation.

Wichita St is 5-0 ATS in non-conference games, 4-0 in NCAA Tournament games, 4-0 against teams with winning records, overall, and in neutral site games, 5-1 in Saturday games, 4-1 after a straight up win, 6-2-1 against Big East teams, and 5-2-1 after a cover.

Louisville is 10-1 ATS overall, 4-0 in Saturday games, 9-1 against teams with winning records, 8-1 in NCAA tournament games, 6-2 after a straight up win of 20 points or more, 20-7 in neutral site games, 36-15 after a straight up win, 7-3 in non-conference games, and 35-16 after a cover.

Wichita St has gotten this far with rebounding and defense. The Shockers have held their four tournament opponents to 34% shooting from the field. However, Louisville has a gear that few teams have. They have gone on big runs to take control of all four of their games so far. I like Louisville to win, but I think Wichita St hangs around until the end.

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