It is an ACC confrontation of two Top 25 teams and the betting odds reflect. One team is on a major roll while the other is looking to regroup after first conference loss of the season.
This 9:00 Eastern clash on ESPN finds Pittsburgh on a 10-game winning streak (5-3 ATS), with their only defeat of the season at the hands of another ranked team in Purdue 72-59 on Dec.1st. Louisville fell to 13-3 (6-6 ATS) by losing last Sunday at Clemson 66-62 as 6.5-point road favorites, shooting a season-worst 24-68 (35.3%) from the field and after trailing by double digits, started hoisting up three’s and was sickly 3 for 23, also the Cardinals worst mark of the year.
Being back home should help Louisville, but this is different kind of Pittsburgh squad.
This is not the kind of club we are used to seeing from coach Jamie Dixon. Most years Pitt (14-1, 6-6 ATS) had really good guards, one wing player who could score and otherwise pounded the ball inside and was more physical than their opponents. That formula worked in the Big East, but in the ACC, the Panthers were too slow and if they could not pummel teams with strength, they were too low on the quickness scale to compete.
Having seen Pittsburgh a couple times, this team can run, shoot and defend at all five positions on the floor. Michael Young is top scorer and rebounder for Pitt (17.5 PPG, and 6.8 rebounds) and he has lots of help with the likes of forward Jamel Artis (16.0, 4.5) and guard James Robinson (10.5, 5.4 assists). If somebody is not having a good game, Dixon has many options on the bench and presently has 11 players seeing 10 or minutes a game. Besides scoring 85.3 PPG, they are the best three throw shooting team in the country at 79.3 percent.
Louisville Has to Feed off Defense
The Cardinals are shooting 49.7% from the field, which is better than recent teams. Rick Pitino’s clubs are about playing great defense and creating turnovers, but with a pair of graduate transfers in Damion Lee (16.6) and Trey Lewis(13.4), Louisville has mature guards who understand about taking good shots and placing their teammates in better scoring situations.
Always a strong rebounding team, the Cardinals face a Pittsburgh outfit that knows how to board, but they always held quickness edge and quicker leaping ability, which it does not appear they will this time. The Cardinals have +13 rebound margin advantage, with the Panthers not far behind at +11. Louisville averages 81.9 PPG and has +23.1 scoring margin differential.