Free Picks: Virginia Cavaliers vs Louisville Cardinals

Louisville vs Virginia NCAAB
Virginia Cavaliers vs Louisville Cardinals, NCAA, KFC Yum! Center

The No. 21 Virginia Cavaliers (16-6, 12-4 ACC) have lost their past two road games — though to be fair, those games came against No. 11 Florida State and a surging Duke team — and now they hit the road again to face the Louisville Cardinals (13-5,, 8-4 ACC), who have won three of four and are looking for momentum entering the ACC tournament. The Cardinals have only lost at home once this year, and they’re coming off a pivotal overtime win on the road against Duke.

In lone meeting, Virginia and Louisville both have something to prove

Louisville is playing some of its best basketball right now, peaking at the right time — with the ACC tournament right around the corner, followed by the NCAA tournament.

But while the Cardinals are a lock for March Madness, they still have an opportunity to rise or fall in the seedings depending on how they fare in the next week or so. That starts Saturday against No. 21 Virginia, a team whose record and reputation exceeds any group that Louisville has beaten this year.

That’s why Virginia is the favorite on the NCAA basketball odds for its matchup with Louisville, despite serving as the road team (and having lost its past two road games). The Cavaliers are a fairly experienced (1.94 years per player, 106th in NCAA Division I) team with a head coach in Tony Bennett who has won at the highest level.

The exact odds for this matchup are not available yet (check back closer to tip off), so our BetPicks prediction, will operate under the assumption that the spread is in the range of 1.5-4.5 points.

With that in mind, bettors should know how precarious Virginia has been against the spread lately. Sure, they’re 10-11-1 ATS on the season, but they’ve failed to cover in their past four games — and they’re 2-6-1 in their past nine. The Cavaliers’ last straight up road win came on Feb. 10 against Georgia Tech.

It’s difficult to pinpoint one thing going wrong for Virginia. They shoot the 3-pointer very well (39.2 percent, eighth in NCAA Division I), they’re an excellent free throw team (80.4 percent, third in D-I) and they rank 30th in adjusted defensive efficiency.

On paper, Louisville is no match. Then again, it’s difficult to ignore the Cardinals’ three consecutive ATS wins at home, or the fact they’ve recently beaten Duke — who happened to recently beat Virginia.

Here’s what we’ll say: for a straight up win, or a spread of 2.5 points or fewer, we like Virginia. Any spread above that puts Louisville in a favorable position.

Stats

  • Virginia is 3-6-1 ATS in its past 10 games
  • The UNDER has cashed in five of the Cavaliers’ past nine games
  • Louisville is 5-5 ATS in its past 10 games
  • The UNDER has cashed in four of the Cardinals’ past six games

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Jordan Horrobin is a freelance sports journalist based in Toronto, Ontario, who enjoys sports-related research and telling engaging stories. His work can also be found at Sportsnet, Forbes and elsewhere. Though he abandoned most of his team-specific fandoms in the interest of unbiased analysis, Jordan roots hard for his fantasy football/hockey teams (and he's a complete homer for all things Ohio University). You can follow Jordan on Twitter at @JordanHorrobin

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