LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (15-1)
at CONNECTICUT HUSKIES (12-3)
XL Arena Ė Hartford, CT
Tip-off: Monday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Louisville -6.5, Total: 132
Newly minted No. 1 Louisville will put its top ranking on the line for the first time as road favorites against Connecticut.
The Cardinals have looked dominant lately, winning their three Big East games thus far by 19.7 points on average. The Huskies bounced back from an early conference loss to Marquette with a rout of DePaul and then an upset at then-No. 17 Notre Dame and will look to knock off their third ranked foe of the season in this one. Louisville is 5-1 (SU and ATS) in the past six meetings between these schools.
Can UConn knock off the No. 1 team in the nation? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The StatFox experts have a collective 22-15 ATS (60%) mark in the past five days, boosting them to 53% ATS (222-199-8) in college basketball Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary, who sits at 58% ATS (50-37) for the season, while StatFox Dave is at 54.4% ATS (81-68-3) on the year. Dave is also 5-1-1 ATS (83%) since Nov. 24 when he mentions the word "hammer" in his analysis, including 3-1 ATS when he uses the term "Hammertime" for a favorite covering a large spread. StatFox Scott is 52% ATS for the season, after going 8-3 ATS since Monday, and StatFox Brian is 4-2 ATS in the past two days.
PG Peyton Siva (11.9 PPG, 5.8 APG) marshals the Louisville attack, expertly running the offense. He is an elite defender as well, tallying 2.3 SPG. The man he primarily finds with the ball is Russ Smith (18.7 PPG), who is extremely talented on the wing as a pure scorer with the ability to shoot or drive. He has struggled lately, though, making just 4-of-24 shots (0-for-6 threes) in the teamís past two games. Chane Behanan (11.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG) is the teamís third and final double-digit scorer. After missing the Seton Hall win with a sprained ankle, Behanan returned to action on Saturday with seven points and 12 rebounds in just 18 minutes versus South Florida. The other true weapon for the Cardinals is C Gorgui Dieng (9.6 PPG, 9.8 PPG) who makes up for his lack of offensive game with incredible rebounding and defensive skills. He blocks 2.2 shots per game and is key on the boards for this Cardinals squad that shoots a pithy 32.7% from deep. Dieng scored 15 points with six rebounds and six steals in Louisville's 80-59 rout of UConn last season.
The Huskies are one of the few teams in the Big East that can match the Cardinalsí skill in the backcourt. Shabazz Napier (17.5 PPG) is knocking down 2.1 treys per game at a 40.3% clip, and is coming off an 8-of-13 shooting performance (3-of-5 threes) against Notre Dame. He is also a deft passer when called upon, averaging 4.0 APG. In the past two games, Napier has 11 assists and just one turnover. Fellow G Ryan Boatright (16.1 PPG, 4.5 APG) matches Napierís skills as a scorer and distributor, averaging 18.2 PPG during a nine-game streak of scoring at least a dozen points. He was also the team's lone bright spot in last year's loss to Louisville with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists. At 6-foot-8, DeAndre Daniels (11.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG) will have to step up on the boards for this poor rebounding team (32.5 RPG, 277th in nation), but he has been improving in that department, averaging 8.5 RPG in the teamís past two contests. Junior F Tyler Olander (5.3 PPG, 4.1 RPG) is coming off his best game of the season with 16 points and seven boards at Notre Dame. Freshman G Omar Calhoun (10.1 PPG) also adds some size on the perimeter at 6-foot-5, though he has struggled lately with just 5.7 PPG on 6-of-22 FG (27%) in Big East play.