The battered and bruised Big East, which had a miserable first day of the NCAA Tournament, will look to right the ship on Friday night in Jacksonville, where the Louisville Cardinals (20-12) will face the California Golden Bears (23-10, 19-13 ATS).
What's At Stake: The winner of this college basketball betting battle will most likely be rewarded with a war against the Duke Blue Devils on Sunday night.
College Basketball Odds: Pick 'em at 5Dimes Sportsbook
Louisville Notes: The Cardinals crammed their way into the field of 65 by scoring two huge victories over Syracuse towards the end of the regular season. This isn't quite the same team that was a #1 seed a year ago, but there are several holdovers that have a ton of tournament experience from that squad. Louisville is averaging 76.3 points per game this year, which is good enough for 37th in the land. The defense doesn't have fantastic numbers, allowing 69.6 points per game, but if you ask any team in the Big East, they'll tell you that the Redbirds have as stout of a defense as there is in their conference.
California Notes: The Golden Bears were the only team in the Pac-10 that really deserved a slot in the NCAA Tournament all season long. Thanks to the fact that Washington won the conference, the "best" conference in the west earned a second bid to the dance. Cal loves to run up and down the court, as it is good for 78.0 points per game. It's also a very efficient team in all facets of the game, as it shoots 47.7% from the field, 37.3% from downtown, and 75.7% from the charity stripe. Averaging 11.8 turnovers per game is probably largely thanks to a very difficult schedule this year, but facing a squad that can put on a ton of pressure, that number is probably only get worse.
Players to Watch
G Edgar Sosa, Louisville Cardinals: If you're looking for a vintage boom or bust player, look no further than Sosa. The New York native is an experienced tournament star having played many games in the dance in his four years at Louisville. He's coming off of a 28 point showing against Cincinnati in the Big East Tournament. At 12.8 points per game, Sosa's numbers don't look fantastic, but he's very dangerous from the outside and can change the course of a game in a hurry.
G Jerome Randle, California Golden Bears: Randle is a fantastic scorer, and he does all of the little things right for the Golden Bears. He's averaging 18.7 points per game, and a lot of that is thanks to a 93.5% shooting percentage from the free throw line and a 40.6% shooting percentage from downtown. Randle does turn the ball over a bit much (3.3 times per game), but his 4.5 assists per game levels that out.
Trends of Note
-Louisville is 4-0 ATS in its L/4 games following an SU defeat
-Louisville is 4-1 ATS in its L/5 games against the Pac-10
-Louisville is 1-4 ATS in its L/5 NCAA Tournament showdowns
-California is 1-4 ATS in its L/5 NCAA Tournament showdowns
-California is 1-4 ATS in its L/5 games against the Big East
-California is 4-1 ATS in its L/5 games against teams with a winning percentage of at least .600
Final Analysis: This is the second Pac-10/Big East battle of the dance after U-Dub knocked Marquette out of the first round of this tournament yesterday, and Friday's affair should be a doozy as well. However, HC Rick Pitino knows what he's doing in the dance, and he's already plotting how his team can make a major run out of a very unpredictable seeding. Look for Sosa to have a great game, while Randle and the crew get very frustrated with the pressure defense that The Ville will throw the Bears' way.
Selection: Louisville pk