Florida Gators vs. Louisville Cardinals
The Florida Gators and the Louisville Cardinals meet on Saturday in Phoenix in an Elite 8 NCAA Tournament match up with the winner earning a spot in the Final Four in New Orleans. The Gators are -1.5 favorites over the Cardinals with an over/under point total set at 131.5.
While it’s tough to call a two time National Championship winning Head Coach like Billy Donovan leading the Florida Gators to this spot was unlikely, it surely looked improbable less than a month ago. Florida entered March struggling for consistency in their shooting and overall play and now as we enter March’s final week the Gators have knocked off Virginia, Norfolk State, and Marquette making it look fairly easy. Against Marquette Bradley Beal had 21 points and six rebounds, Kenny Boynton had 11 points and five assists, and Erving Walker added 11 points as it was an across the board team effort. UF shot 40.7 percent from the floor, 25.9 percent from beyond the three point arc, and they hit 86.7 percent of their free throws. The Gators are 8-1 in neutral site games but they are just 3-6 against teams ranked in the top 25 while they have played the 21st ranked schedule in the country. When Florida is shooting well they are tough to beat and while the numbers didn’t look all that great against Marquette where they threw up 27 three point shots, it doesn’t take that high of a conversion percentage when looking at the big picture.
Like their opponent in this game, Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals have gotten hot at just the right time having won seven games in a row including winning the Big East Conference Tournament and their first three games of the NCAA Tournament. Louisville has knocked off Davidson, New Mexico, and top seeded Michigan State as they look to be yet another Big East champ to make the Final Four. Against Michigan State Chane Benehan had 15 points and nine rebounds, Russ Smith had 11 points, and Gorgui Dieng had nine rebounds, and Peyton Siva had nine assists. As a team Louisville shot 38.2 percent from the floor, 39.1 percent from beyond the three point arc, and they hit 54.5 percent of their free throws. The Cardinals are 7-0 in neutral site games and they have played the fifth ranked schedule in the country. Louisville has taken on all comers and are battle tested for this showdown.
Florida is 4-0 against the spread in their last four neutral site games, 14-3 against the spread in their last 17 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite, and 9-3 against the spread against the Big East. Louisville is 7-0 against the spread in their last seven neutral site games, 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games against the SEC, and 6-1 against the spread as an underdog of up to 6.5 points.
Both of these teams can shoot and Florida likes to put it up early in the shot clock but with the total in the low 130’s I still like the under here as my pick.