Date and Time: Saturday, March 15th, 2014 6:00 PM EST on ESPN

Game Line: Louisville -7.5 Game Total (Over/Under): 135.5 (from JustBet)

Saturday NCAABB analysis: Russ Smith and the #5 ranked Louisville Cardinals take on Shabazz Napier and the #21 ranked UConn Huskies in the American Athletic Conference championship.

The Louisville Cardinals (28-5) have just been dominant as of late. Since their home loss to Cincinnati, the Cardinals have won 11 of their last 12 games, with their only loss during that stretch a 6 point loss at Memphis. They are led by senior guard Russ Smith, who’s averaging 17.8 ppg and 4.7 assists per game. Smith went off in the AAC semi-final, dropping 42 points in a 94-65 drubbing of Houston. Louisville is averaging 82.5 ppg while shooting 47.6% from the field. They are extremely efficient on the offensive end with a 1.49 assist to turnover ratio. Defensively, the Cardinals are exceptional limiting opponents to 39.3% shooting while ranking 2nd in the nation in steals (10.2 per game) and are also 1st in the nation in turnover margin (7.2).

The UConn Huskies (26-7) are definitely playing with some fire after sitting out of postseason play last year. The Huskies advanced to the conference final by trouncing Memphis 72-53 and edging Cincinnati 58-56. They are led by AAC player of the year Shabazz Napier, who is averaging 17.5 ppg and 5 assists pre contest. The Huskies are averaging 72.2 ppg while shooting 44.8% from the field. They have had their struggles this season taking care of the ball this season, averaging 11.5 turnovers per game along with a 1.09 assist to turnover ratio. Defensively they are allowing 62.9 ppg while limiting opponents to 38.7% shooting from the field. They are also tops in the conference in blocked shots averaging 6.2 per game, due to the presence of 7 foot freshman Amida Brimah and 6’9” forward Deandre Daniels.

I’m grabbing the points with the UConn Huskies. UConn is playing a solid brand of basketball since being blown out by Louisville just 7 days ago. Louisville has defeated UConn twice this season. The first time these two teams met was at UConn back in January, a 76-64 Louisville win. It was a flat spot for the Huskies as UConn was coming off a huge road win at Memphis and had to play the Cardinals just two days later. The next meeting resulted in an 81-48 victory for Louisville. Again, I take a look at the situation, it was senior day for Louisville and it was an absolute dominant performance by the Cardinals. How hard is it to beat a team 3 times in a season? It’s pretty difficult, and I think these teams are more evenly matched than the prior outcomes would indicate. UConn has been making the most out of their postseason after sitting out last year due to NCAA sanctions. I like the dog here, even though Louisville has been flat out dominating teams, I think they will be meeting a very focused and motivated UConn team playing for some serious revenge.

UConn Huskies vs. Louisville Cardinals at Free NCAABB pick: UConn + 7.5 Under 135.5

UConn Huskies vs. Louisville Cardinals Game Prediction:  UConn 67 Louisville 65

 

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