(2) Virginia Cavaliers (-2, 113 o/u) at (16) Louisville Cardinals
Two ACC powers will close out their regular season schedules this evening as the No. 2 Virginia Cavaliers (28-1, 16-1 ACC) meet the No. 16 Louisville Cardinals (23-7, 11-6 ACC) at the KFC Yum! Center (6:30 p.m. Eastern).
Virginia has just one loss on the year (69-63 at home to No. 3 Duke), but their road to 28-1 hasn’t been without some other close calls, including their previous tilt with Louisville.
Back in early February, the Cavaliers hosted the Cardinals in Charlottesville and narrowly escaped with a 52-47 win, missing the cover as seven-point home favorites. Virginia’s defense was smothering in the first half, holding Louisville to just 13 points and taking an 11-point cushion into halftime. But the team got a bit lackadaisical in the second frame and had to scrape and claw to hold off a last-minute Cardinal comeback.
Virginia also tempted fate in its last game; on Monday, the low-scoring Cavaliers found themselves down 11 to Syracuse toward the end of the first half. But the Wahoos got 17 points from big-man Anthony Gill en route to a 59-47 comeback win.
“I just looked at the guys, and I said, ‘All we’ve got is each other. We’re going to have to try to figure this out,'” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said about the early deficit. “I’ve been in those spots before. We couldn’t change anything. We’re just either going to sink or swim with these guys.”
Louisville, meanwhile, is in a time of transition. The team recently dismissed starting point guard Chris Jones and has now turned to freshman Quentin Snider. Snider was good on the road against Florida State, putting up 11 points and four assists in the Cardinals’ dominant 81-59 win; but he looked a bit out of place last time out against No. 12 Notre Dame, scoring just six points on 33-percent shooting, and committing four turnovers (versus just two assists).
The loss snapped Louisville’s three-game win streak and left the team tied with UNC for fourth-place in the ACC standings.
Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino lamented his team’s execution against the Irish.
“It was as if we thought we were Notre Dame the way we were running our offense,” said Pitino. “It was very disappointing in terms of us quick shooting, taking ill-advised shots and our breakdowns defensively.”
Turning to the trends, Virginia has won five straight road games, while Louisville has uncharacteristically lost four games at home this year. The Cardinals are also just 1-5 ATS in their last six, overall.
Virginia is currently a two-point road favorite.
Both teams possess dominant defenses so the over/under is at a very low 113; however, five of Louisville’s last six home games have stayed under, and four of Virginia’s last five road games have done likewise. It seems oddsmakers are having trouble finding a number low enough for these two squads.
(Photo credit: brandonink2001 (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode]. Photo has been cropped.)