LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (19-4)
at TEMPLE OWLS (6-16)
Liacouras Center - Philadelphia, PA
Tip-off: Friday, 6:00 p.m. ET
Line: Louisville -14
For the fourth time in its past five games, No. 13 Louisville will be a double-digit favorite as it continues American Athletic Conference play Friday against cellar-dweller Temple. This game was postponed on Thursday due to snow.
Louisville (10-10-1 ATS) enters this one coming off an eight-day layoff after pushing against Houston 77-62 as 15-point favorites on Feb. 5. The Cardinals are 1-2-1 ATS in their past four games and 4-5-1 ATS (8-2 SU) against AAC opponents. Over the past three seasons, Rick Pitinoís squad is 13-3 ATS in road games after one or more consecutive games going Under the total. Overall, the Cardinals are 4-2-1 ATS on the road this season. The Owls have been absolutely dreadful lately, losing their past three SU and ATS after their lone conference SU victory against Rutgers. They are 8-11 ATS and 4-6 ATS in the AAC, going 1-9 SU in league action. But since 1997, underdogs of 10 to 19.5 points, after allowing 75 points in at least five consecutive games, with just one or fewer starters returning from last season, are 29-6 ATS. The last time these two programs met was in March 2002 when Temple won 65-62 as four-point underdogs.
Can heavy underdog Temple keep the final score respectable against Louisville? For the latest college basketball picks, check out The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts selections every week throughout the entire 2013-14 season. The StatFox Experts have been rolling in college basketball Best Bets this season with a 58% ATS (202-144-11) mark, including a hefty 61% ATS (170-110-6) record since Nov. 23. StatFox Brian is at 65% ATS (45-24-2) in Best Bets for the season and 69% ATS (38-17-1) since Nov. 26. StatFox Dave is 61% ATS (43-28-1) for the season and 67% ATS (26-13) since Dec. 18, while StatFox Scott is a strong 57% ATS (39-30-2) for the season and 58% ATS (29-21-2) since Dec. 2. StatFox Zach is a solid 55% ATS (37-30-4) on Best Bets this season, including 57% ATS (31-23-3) since Nov. 22, while StatFox Gary is 54% ATS (38-32-2) for the season, and 58% ATS (32-23) since Nov. 29.
Louisvilleís offense is impressive this season, totaling 82.3 PPG (14th in Div. I) on 47.6% shooting (31st in Div. I) with 15.3 APG (40th in Div. I). The Cardinals also take deft care of the ball with only 10.6 turnovers per game. More impressive than their offense, though, is their stifling defense that holds opponents to 62.4 PPG on 39.7% shooting. They force 17.3 turnovers per game (4th in Div. I) with 9.6 SPG (3rd in Div. I). SG Russ Smith (18.3 PPG, 4.7 APG) is the teamís star, pacing the club in scoring and assists as a natural shooting guard who has had to handle the ball more this season. That means he has turned it over 3.1 times per game, but he is also a menace defensively with 1.8 SPG. He is the only Cardinals player with more than 1.5 turnovers per game. Heís joined in the backcourt by SG Chris Jones (10.9 PPG, 1.9 SPG) and swingman Wayne Blackshear (9.7 PPG, 45.1% threes), who is set to play after missing the teamís last game due to a concussion. Like Blackshear, SF Luke Hancock (11.5 PPG) is a swing player who can do damage shooting the ball. Down low, PF Montrezl Harrell (12.6 PPG, 8.2 RPG) is the teamís primary threat to score and grab rebounds. He is the lone Louisville player grabbing more than five rebounds per game, though SF Stephan Van Treese (2.9 PPG, 4.8 RPG) has been coming into his own, especially on the glass (5.7 RPG in 24.7 MPG in past three games), since Chane Behanan was kicked off the team.
The Temple offense averages 74.6 PPG (94th in Div. I) on a poor 43.4% shooting clip (236th in Div. I). But the offense has the unique characteristic of being the only in the nation to feature four players who average at least 14.0 PPG. Their issues come on the defensive end, where they yield a whopping 77.8 PPG (325th in nation) on 46.4% shooting while only forcing 10.9 turnovers per game. SG Dalton Pepper (17.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG) is the teamís top scorer, hitting 40.8% of his threes this season. Since a 33-point outburst in a near upset of Cincinnati in which he hit 8-of-14 threes, Pepper is just 7-of-31 (23%) from behind the arc. Junior PG Will Cummings (16.4 PPG, 4.4 APG) runs the offense for Fran Dunphy and is averaging 5.6 APG over the teamís past five contests. Sophomore SG Quenton DeCosey (15.2 PPG) rounds out the backcourt, though he is just 11-of-37 (29.7%) from the field in the teamís past three games. PF Anthony Lee (14.0 PPG, 9.2 RPG) rounds out the quarter of options for this offense, leading the team in boards, including 10.0 RPG over the past three contests.