Free NCAA Tournament Picks: #7 Florida vs. #4 Louisville 3/24/12

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The Florida Gators have had a heck of a run to get into the Elite 8, and they are going to be up against it once again on the March Madness odds on Saturday against the Louisville Cardinals.

Elite 8 Matchup: #7 Florida Gators vs. #4 Louisville Cardinals
Date: Saturday, March 24th, 4:30 ET
Location: US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
Elite 8 Odds: Florida -1.5
NCAA Tournament TV Schedule: CBS

The Gators and the Cardinals have both taken very different paths to reach this point in the dance. UF has had to go through a significantly easier schedule, getting a No. 15 seed in the Norfolk State Spartans instead of the No. 2 Missouri Tigers, and a relatively weak No. 3 seed in the Marquette Golden Eagles. Meanwhile, Louisville has had a significantly tougher time, having to take down the MWC champs, the New Mexico Lobos and the No. 1 Michigan State Spartans.

Florida has had an odd tourney for sure. There are times that the best players on this team just haven’t figured out how to get through matters. Kenny Boynton, for example, has had two very questionable games. That being said, Bradley Beal came up big with 21 points against Marquette, while Patric Young had a monster game against the Virginia Cavaliers with 13 points and seven boards against a stout defensive squad and in a very ugly game. That being said, this is as hard of a game as the team has had to face in the dance in spite of the fact that the ‘Ville has a No. 4 seed and not a No. 3 seed like the Golden Eagles.

The Cardinals are only here on the grace of their defense. This is the unit that really did well against the Spartans, a team that wasn’t often shut down for most of the year. The team gave up just 44 points in that one in what turned out to be a very one-sided game. That ‘D’ really got the job done in all of these games in the dance and in the Big East Tournament. The key is Gorgui Dieng, who blocked seven Michigan State shots on Thursday night. He might not be the best offensive player in the world, but he is going to be a force against the Gators, especially when they go to the small, four guard lineup. Peyton Siva hasn’t always been the greatest scorer in this tourney, but he is getting the job done as a distributor and is taking care of the basketball.

We’ve been high on this Florida team for the whole dance, but we just think that this is quite the difficult matchup. The Cardinals are going to be able to match that intensity on both sides of the court. In one of these games, the three ball is going to fail the Gators, and if that happens in this battle, the Big East champs are also going to be the West Region champs. We would have loved Florida’s chances against Michigan State, but we are going to get off of the blue and orange bandwagon before it crashes out of the dance.

Elite 8 Free Pick: Louisville Cardinals +1.5

Wisconsin vs. Syracuse Projected Final Score: Louisville 58 – Florida 54

Lou Palumbo is the founder and part owner of the Sports Handicapping Community. He's been writing and posting free picks and sports handicapping strategies on the Cappersinfo forums and website for 15 years now. He enjoys handicapping just as much as he did from the very first day he built the original Cappersinfo website.

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