The Cards and Tar Heels split their season series 1-1. The first game they played, Louisville absolutely bitch slapped them, 83-62, at UNC. The second game, the Tar Heels got their revenge in the KFC Yum! Center, 79-69. As much as I want to say that the Cards can win this game, I don’t see them beating this UNC team twice. North Carolina is playing really, really strong right now. They are peaking at this time of the year. They have won 7 in a row with two of those games against Duke. In that stretch the least amount of points they scored was 77 against Florida St. So, Louisville is really going to have to use their good defense to force North Carolina into tough shots.
If the Cards can force them to miss shots then they might have a chance, but their offense will have to be on too. If Jordan Nwora makes his shots and they limit their turnovers, which will be tough, their is a chance. However, I think that is too much to ask, and I don’t think that it will work completely for the Cards. It may be a close game, but I don’t see anything good about this game for the Cards.
Prediction: North Carolina 79 – 74 Louisville
Syracuse vs. Duke
When: 7:00 p.m. ET ESPN
Spread: Duke -11.5
Duke and Syracuse split their season series 1-1. The first game Duke lost in Overtime 95-91 at home, and the the second game Duke handled Syracuse pretty easily, 75-65 at Syracuse. With Zion Williamson coming back for the tournament, fully healthy, Duke has their X factor back. Zion is the biggest game changer. His absence is the sole reason for their slide at the end of the season. He didn’t play because he wanted to become fully healthy and that is what Duke is going to get, a healthy Zion. That is scary. Zion, RJ Barrett, and Cam Reddish are going to be firing on all cylinders. That offense is going to be on and it will not let up. Syracuse may have a decent defense, but I’m not sure. Duke is not Pittsburgh. Duke is a different animal. I think think that this will probably be Zion’s “hey, remember me” game. Duke is going to roll.
This will be the second meeting of the year for these two teams and the last time they met at Louisville, the Cards won handedly 75-61. In that game Louisville shot 68% and completely out rebounded the Irish. The difference in this game will be if Notre Dame can limit Louisville at the free throw line and the amount of shots made. They will have to stop Jordan Nwora from taking over as well. I don’t think that they will be able to do that since they don’t have much of a defense. Louisville’s defense will really limit the amount of made shots by Notre Dame which will make things an uphill battle for them. The only real shot Notre Dame has is if they can force Louisville to turn the ball over, and when they have the ball they need make their shots. That’s not super realistic though, seeing as Notre Dame is not as strong as they had been in the past.
That being said, this game won’t even be close. Louisville is just the better team, and although they have lost a lot of games in the past month and a half, I think they are a better team because of it. They have been playing good basketball but just can’t find ways to close out games, and against a weak Notre Dame team, I don’t think that will be an issue.
Prediction: Louisville 76 – 64 Notre Dame
Pittsburgh vs. Syracuse
When: 9:00 p.m. ET ESPN 2
Spread: Syracuse -7.5
Pittsburgh had an really rough stretch in the end of the year. They lost 13 in a row. In that stretch they lost both of their games to Syracuse with scores of 74-63, and 65-56. On the other side, Syracuse had their fair share of quality wins this season. They beat both Duke and Louisville, but they didn’t have anything else that special this season. What Syracuse is going to do is probably block Pitt a lot. Syracuse is one of the best shot blocking teams in the country, and probably can do some damage against Pitt who gets their shot blocked almost more than any other team in the country. Syracuse also does a great job of stealing the ball. This is a suffocating team, but their offense isn’t really anything to write home about. They are a terrible three point shooting team and are not that good down low either.
Pitt’s best shot is causing Syracuse to take bad shots, and they probably will. They are a competent team. However, they are also one of the youngest teams in college basketball. I don’t think Pitt can get this one done; however, they will be able to keep it close. It will be a tough ACC battle in tournament time that will ultimately result in a Syracuse victory.
Depending on the program, doing just one of these is a feat in itself. Marshall winning an NCAA tourney game is major step in the right direction and Kentucky or Duke winning a bowl game is basically unheard of.
This sabermetric is cool in the way that your school winning a Cheerleading and Rifle title in the same year is cool. No one cares, but it’s worth mentioning. Also, the fact that only 12 teams did this brings a trump card to any rivalry argument.
The 12 teams to win an NCAA Tournament game and a Bowl game are: Alabama Kentucky Texas A&M Ohio State Marshall Auburn Cincinnati Clemson Duke Florida Nevada Syracuse
If you would have asked me 5 years ago who would be on this list, I would have said Florida, Ohio State and Louisville. Three schools who are usually consistent at both sports. I definitely would not have said Alabama or Clemson, because they seem a little focused on football every year, and I also would have left out Duke and Kentucky because their football teams have been nonexistent some years. I could not be happier for Marshall though. Major step for their program.