No. 2 Louisville vs. No. 7 Michigan Preview
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse – Indianapolis, IN
When: Sunday, March 19, 2017, 12:10 PM ET
TV Broadcast: CBS
Writer’s Prediction: Michigan Wolverines (+3)
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Betting on the Louisville Cardinals (-3)
No. 2 Louisville had few problems getting past first-round foe Jacksonville State, 78-63. Three players – Mangok Mathiang, Deng Adel, and Quentin Snider – had at least 16 points for the Cardinals to compensate for leading scorer Donovan Mitchell’s off-game (9 points, 3-15 FG).
Mitchell (15.5 points per game this season) has been in a bit of rut lately. He’s shot just 13-of-53 (24 percent) over his last four games, and has scored in single-digits in three of those four games; he had scored below 10 points just once in his previous 15.
The Cardinals have also been having a tough time covering the spread. They’ve failed to cover in their last four games in a row, and are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 games. However, they won’t need to cover a lot of points against Michigan.
Louisville doesn’t have the best offense, and won’t want to get into a shootout against the Wolverines. But the Cardinals have the defense that can throw a wrench in the offensive machine that is Michigan. The Cards are No. 7 in defensive efficiency, in large part due to their terrific ability to defend the 3-point line. They’re allowing opponents to shoot just 31.5 percent from beyond the arc, 28th in the nation.
Betting on the Michigan Wolverines (+3)
The Michigan Wolverines’ miraculous run continues. After an improbable Big Ten tournament title win, the Wolverines won their first tournament game, barely edging out No. 10 Oklahoma State, 92-91. They would’ve covered too if not for a Jawun Evans 3-pointer at the death. They are now just 5-1 against the spread in their last six games.
Michigan remained red-hot from beyond the arc, as they sank 16-of-29 3-pointers. Seniors Derrick Walton Jr. and Zak Irvin once again led the way with a combined 42 points on 10-of-15 from 3. Walton has saved his best play for the late-season run. He’s averaging 25.7 points, 5 rebounds, and 9 assists over his last three games.
John Beilein’s team will have an added edge to their game as they look to get revenge for their 2013 national championship game defeat to the Cardinals. This is obviously a different Wolverines team, but one that has an offense Louisville coach Rick Pitino has likened to the Golden State Warriors in terms of their shooting. That’s definitely high praise.
The Wolverines – currently No. 3 in offensive efficiency – can score on just about any team. And with the way they’ve been shooting lately, they’re certainly capable of raining those 3s even against a top defense like Louisville.
Despite that failed first-round cover, Michigan’s John Beilein still has a terrific record against the spread in the tournament. He’s now 19-8 ATS in his career.
Michigan (+3) continues its hot shooting and scores a big upset of Louisville.
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