The No. 5 Louisville Cardinals will host the Virginia Cavaliers on Saturday in a key ACC matchup. Although the Cardinals are heavy favorites in this one, the Cavaliers have upset a few ranked teams and will look to pull off another upset against Louisville.
The Cardinals are riding a hot hand, winning nine straight games and will look to snag their 10th at home against Virginia.
The Cavaliers have their own streak going, winning three straight games, with a big win over then-No. 5-ranked Florida State.
The spread is slightly large in this one as the Cardinals come in as eight-point favorites with the over/under at 114. Let’s evaluate both teams and see if we can come up with a winner.
Trying To Stay On Top
Louisville is led by leading scorer Jordan Nwora and fellow forward Dwayne Sutton. Nwora was a driving force behind Louisville’s big win against Wake Forest. Adding to Nwora’s 21 points, Sutton put up a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds.
The stellar play put up by these two forwards are what’s pushed Louisville to the top of the ACC standings and mostly responsible for their nine-game win streak. The Cardinals will be down guard Josh Nickelberry, but I wouldn’t count that as a huge loss on offense.
Louisville has a mediocre record against the spread at 12-11, with five of its last seven going over. It’s worth it to note that Louisville is 14-1 at home and does well at covering smaller point spreads.
In their last six games, the Cardinals are 4-2 ATS but were unable to cover a 15.5-point spread against Wake Forest.
Looking To Stay Hot
The Cavaliers are coming off three big wins, most notably the victory over Florida State. Now they’ll have to travel to Louisville to face the Cardinals, and although experts have the Cardinals walking away with this one, Virginia might have another upset up its sleeve.
The Cavaliers’ record (15-6) might not show it, but they’ve done well at beating ranked teams. First they started with a win over North Carolina. After that, they lost a game to Florida State on the road but redeemed themselves when they hosted the Seminoles.
What Virginia does best is defense, ranking No. 1 in the country, allowing just 50.4 points per game. Their defense against Louisville will be a crucial component if they are looking to pull off an upset against the Cardinals.
Unfortunately, the Cavaliers have an awful record against the spread at 7-14, so trusting them to cover a spread in any capacity comes with some risk.
Pick and Prediction
Although I believe Louisville is the better team in this game and will most likely emerge as the victor, the spread is slightly too large for me to feel comfortable with. In their last 10 games, the Cardinals have had a hard time covering these medium spreads, and once it gets over 6.5, I have a hard time trusting the Cardinals to get the job done.
Virginia is a much better team than it is currently getting credit for. Although it doesn’t dwell among the ranked basketball teams in the country, Virginia has played well against ranked teams. The Cavaliers’ loss to Florida State on the road was a pretty close one, losing 54-50 in a game they were spotted 6.5.
The Cavaliers’ ability on defense is what sets them apart from the rest of the nation. Allowing under 51 points per game is no easy feat, and although I believe the Cardinals will win this game, I have more faith in the Cavaliers covering the spread. Virginia +8.