NCAA Tournament 2012: Florida Gators vs. Louisville Cardinals

No. 7 Florida Gators vs. No. 4 Louisville Cardinals
Saturday, 3/24/12, 4:30 PM EST, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  Florida PK
Current Betting Line:  Florida -1
Opening Total:  131
Current Total:  131.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

The Louisville Cardinals are a step away from reaching the Final Four

Florida has won all three of its 2012 NCAA tournament games by a double-digit margin, including a convincing 68-58 win over the Marquette Golden Eagles as one-point underdogs on Thursday.  The Gators are playing in their 12th Big Dance under the direction of head coach Billy Donovan, posting a solid 28-9 mark overall, which includes an 18-2 record since 2006.  Not many experts picked the program to reach this point, especially after late-season defeats to Georgia, Vanderbilt and Kentucky twice.  “It goes to show the losses made us stronger,” commented Gators junior guard Kenny Boynton.  Florida is 5-3 ATS when playing on a neutral court this year.

The Gators are making their sixth Elite Eight appearance in program history, tallying a 4-1 mark in the previous five games.  Florida has registered a solid 17-9 record against Big East Conference opponents during the Donovan era, including a 3-1 mark in the NCAA tournament.  All five players that are expected to start are averaging double figures in scoring, with Boynton leading the way in averaging 16.0 points per game.  It’s important to note that the team is 1-7 all-time against Saturday’s opponent.

Louisville is coming off a dominating defensive performance in handing the Michigan State Spartans a 57-44 defeat as 5.5-point underdogs in the Sweet 16, which caused the “under” to cash in nine of the team’s last 10 games.  “We knew we were coming to a war,” commented Cardinals center Gorgui Dieng.  The program is now looking to advance to its ninth NCAA Final Four, as it has garnered an 8-3 record when playing in regional championship games.  Louisville will put its 7-0 ATS record on the line when playing on a neutral court inside the US Airways Center in Phoenix.

The Cardinals are certainly led by a defense that has limited opponents to 60 or fewer points in 23 of 38 games this season.  Louisville ranks third nationally in allowing opponents to shoot just 37.7 percent from the field.  The team has a collective 79-61 record against current members of the Southeastern Conference, while Pitino is 19-2 against Florida in his career, including wins in 12 straight meetings.

Bettors will likely back the Cardinals due to their 12-2 ATS mark following a straight-up win, while the Gators are 12-12 ATS as a favorite.

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