Midwest Region Third Round Betting Preview: #5 Saint Louis Billikens vs #4 Louisville Cardinals

2014 NCAA Tournament
Midwest Region – Third Round

Amway Center – Orlando, Florida
#5 Saint Louis Billikens vs #4 Louisville Cardinals
Saturday, March 22, 2014, 2:45 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Opening Line: Louisville -9
Current Line: Louisville -9
Opening Total: 133
Current Total: 132 1/2
Opening Money Line: Louisville -475 / Saint Louis +370
Current Money Line: Louisville -500 / Saint Louis +390

Louisville is a 9 point favorite against Saint Louis in the Midwest region third round Saturday in Orlando.
Louisville is a 9 point favorite against Saint Louis in the Midwest region third round Saturday in Orlando.

The 30-5 Louisville Cardinals take on the 27-6 Saint Louis Billikens in the Midwest Region third round Saturday in Orlando. The winner will advance to the Midwest regional semifinals next week in Indianapolis and take on either #1 seed Wichita State or #8 Kentucky  . Louisville is the defending national champion. Saint Louis is looking to go to the sweet 16 for the first time in program history.

Saint Louis won the Atlantic 10 regular season title with a 13-3 record. The Billikens were upset by St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic 10 quarterfinals, and received a #5 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Saint Louis had a 19 game winning streak earlier in the season, but Saint Louis limped into the tournament losing 4 of their last 5 games. The Billikens played #12 seed North Carolina State in the second round Thursday. Saint Louis trailed 59-45 with 5 minutes to go in regulation. However, the Billikens mounted a furious comeback and tied the game at 70 with 18.8 seconds left. The game would go into overtime and Saint Louis completed the comeback with an 83-80 win.

Louisville tied with Cincinnati for the American Athletic Conference regular season title with a 15-3 record. Louisville beat Connecticut in the AAC Championship game. The Cardinals were given a #4 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a match-up with #13 seed Manhattan. Manhattan is coached by Steve Masiello who both played and served as an assistant under Louisville coach Rick Pitino. The plucky Jaspers gave Louisville everything they could handle as the Cardinals escaped with a narrow 71-64 victory. It was the sixth straight win for the Cardinals

Louisville leads the series against Saint Louis 45-20. They were longtime conference rivals in the Missouri Valley, Metro, and Conference USA until 2005. Louisville has won 3 of the last 4 meetings but they haven’t played since 2005.

Saint Louis is coached by Jim Crews. The Billikens have losses to Wisconsin in a tournament in Cancun, Wichita State, Duquesne, at VCU, Dayton, and St. Bonaventure. Saint Louis has key wins at Southern Illinois, Oral Roberts, Bowling Green, Old Dominion in Cancun, at Valparaiso, Wofford, Indiana State, at Vanderbilt, Yale, at Rhode Island, at Dayton, St. Bonaventure, Fordham, at Duquesne, Richmond, George Mason twice, at LaSalle, VCU, George Washington, and at Massachusetts. Saint Louis is 10-19-1 ATS and the total is 10-19 this season.

Saint Louis is outscoring teams 70-61 this season. The Billikens are #18 in points allowed nationally. Saint Louis is shooting 44.3% from the field and 31.9% from 3 point range. The Billikens are #297 out of 351 teams nationally in three point shooting. Saint Louis makes 70.8% of their free throws. Opponents are shooting 39.9% from the field and 28.4% from 3 point range. the Billikens are #26 in field goal defense and lead the nation in 3 point defense. Saint Louis averages 36.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 31 per game. The Billikens average 14.3 assists, 12.6 turnovers, 7.4 steals, and 4.2 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.3 assists, 14.2 turnovers per game, 7.1 steals and 4 blocks per game.

Forward Dwayne Evans averages 14 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Guard Jordair Jett averages 13.7 points, 4 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Forward Rob Loe averages 9.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. Guard Mike McCall, Jr. averages 9.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.4 steals per game. Guard Austin McBrrom averages 7.7 points, 2 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game. Jake Barnett, Grandy Glaze, and John Manning will also get significant minutes in the rotation.

Louisville is coached by Rick Pitino. The Cardinals have losses to North Carolina in a tournament in Connecticut, at Kentucky, Memphis twice, and Cincinnati. Louisville has key wins over College of Charleston, Hofstra, Cornell, Southern Miss, Louisiana, Western Kentucky, Missouri State, Florida International, Central Florida twice, Temple twice, Rutgers three times, SMU twice, Houston three times, Connecticut three times, and South Florida twice. Louisville is 19-14 ATS and the total is 15-16 this season.

Louisville is outscoring teams 82-61 this season. The Cardinals are #8 in scoring and #15 in points allowed nationally. Louisville is shooting 47.4% from the field and 37.1% from 3 point range. The Cardinals are #33 in field goal percentage. Louisville is #299 out of 351 teams in free throw shooting at 65.9% from the line. Cardinal opponents are shooting 39.4% from the field and 29.1% from 3 point range. Louisville is #16 in field goal defense and #5 in three point defense nationally. The Cardinals average 38.2 rebounds per game and opponents average 32.4. Louisville is #37 nationally in rebounding. The Cardinals average 15.7 assists, 10.3 turnovers, 10.1 steals and 4.6 blocks per game. Opponents average 10.5 assists, 17.4 turnovers, 4.3 steals and 2.8 blocks per game.

Louisville guard Russ Smith averages 18.3 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game. Forward Montrezl Harrell averages 14.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals, and 1.3 blocks per game. Forward Luke Hancock averages 11.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Guard Chris Jones averages 10.3 points, 2.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 2.3 steals per game. Guard Wayne Blackshear averages 8.5 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.2 steals per game. Terry Rozier, Mangok Mathiang, and Stephan Van Treese will also get significant minutes in the rotation. Forward Chane Behanan was kicked off the team earlier in the season for violating team rules. Guard Kevin Ware is out for the season with a shin injury.

Saint Louis is 3-0-1 ATS in non-conference games, 4-1-1 in NCAA Tournament games, 1-6-1 against teams with winning records, 1-8-1 overall, 0-5 in Saturday games, 0-6 after a straight up win, and 0-4-1 in neutral site games. The underdog is 5-2 ATS in the last 7 games in this series. The Billikens are 7-2-1 ATS in the last 10 against the Cardinals. Take it with a grain of salt as they haven’t played since 2005. Seniors on both current teams weren’t even in high school yet.

Louisville is 5-1 ATS overall, 4-1 ATS against teams with winning records, 9-3 in NCAA Tournament games, 21-7 in neutral site games. 17-8 in non-conference games, 52-25 after a straihgt up win, and 0-9-1 against Atlantic 10 teams.

Both Louisville and Saint Louis escaped with narrow victories Thursday in the second round. However, Louisville looked much better down the stretch heading into the tournament than Saint Louis. I think the Cardinals win this with relative ease.

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