ST. JOHN'S RED STORM (15-9)
at LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (19-5)
KFC Yum! Center - Louisville, KY
Tip-off: Thursday, 9:00 p.m. ET
Line: Louisville -17, Total: 133.5
After suffering a marathon loss on Saturday, No. 12 Louisville tries get back on track when it hosts struggling St. John's on Thursday night.
The Cardinals lost the longest regular-season game in Big East history when they fell 104-101 in five overtimes to Notre Dame on Saturday. Louisville blew an eight-point lead with 51 seconds left in regulation in that defeat, making the school 3-4 SU (2-5 ATS) in the past seven contests. St. John's is also coming off a loss, falling by 19 points at Syracuse on Sunday. The Red Storm have now dropped two of three following their five-game win streak, and will not have head coach Steve Lavin on the sidelines for the second straight game as Lavin copes with the passing of his father. Louisville is 7-3 SU in the 10 meetings between these schools since 1996, but St. John's is 6-4 ATS over this span. However, the Cardinals are a perfect 6-0 SU at home versus the Red Storm.
Can Louisville cover the massive spread against the Red Storm? For the answer, connect to College Basketball Best Bets for all the Expert picks throughout the entire 2012-13 season. The experts have been red-hot in college basketball Best Bets, as StatFox Scott is 64% ATS (7-4) since Friday, while StatFox Gary is 63% ATS (10-6-2) in the past 10 days, improving to an impressive 56.3% ATS (80-62-3) Best Bets mark for the season. StatFox Dave is 54% ATS (29-25-1) since Jan. 28 to boost his season win percentage to a profitable 53% ATS (128-115-4). StatFox Brian is63% ATS (5-3) in the past four days.
St. John's averages 68.0 PPG (159th in D-I) on 43.0% FG (188th in nation), but has scored just 57.0 PPG on 36% FG during its past two road games. Only seven players for the Red Storm average at least 10 minutes per game, led by their two top scorers, sophomore SG D'Angelo Harrison (18.3 PPG, 4.4 RPG) and freshman SF Jakarr Sampson (14.8 PPG, 6.6 RPG). Harrison has been in an awful shooting slump in three February games, scoring just 8.7 PPG on 7-of-34 FG (21%) and 3-of-18 threes. But he certainly had his way with Louisville in last season's lone meeting, a 73-58 loss. Harrison torched the Cardinals for 24 points (8-of-18 FG), eight rebounds and three steals. Sampson has 10 straight games of 10+ points, averaging a hefty 18.3 PPG in his past six contests. Sophomore PG Phil Greene IV (8.9 PPG, 2.8 APG) has scored at least 10 points in five straight games, but has made just 20-of-62 FG (32%) during this string. He also managed just one assist and three turnovers in 37 minutes of action in Sunday's loss. Freshman C Chris Obekpa (3.9 PPG, 5.7 RPG) is quite a presence in the lane. His 4.3 blocks per game rank second in the nation.
Louisville has scored 74.7 PPG this season, but had just 60 points after regulation in Saturday's marathon. But even with the 104 points allowed, The Cardinals are still giving up just 59.1 PPG on 39.7% FG and 31.5% threes this season. SG Russ Smith leads the team with 18.3 PPG, but he was just 4-for-19 FG (0-for-6 threes) in the loss to the Irish, putting him below 40% FG for the season. Smith also shot poorly in the win over St. John's last year (5-for-15 FG), but finished with a fat stat line of 17 points, seven assists, four rebounds and four steals. PG Peyton Siva (10.3 PPG, 6.0 APG) also had a rough night in South Bend, scoring just two points (1-of-6 FG) before fouling out. But PF Chane Behanan (11.2 PPG, 7.5 RPG) helped pick up the scoring slack with 30 points (13-of-20 FG) and 15 rebounds in 56 minutes of action in Saturday's win. That was nearly as many points as he had in his previous four games combined (32 points, 8.0 PPG). C Gorgui Dieng (9.4 PPG, 9.9 RPG) scored only two points in 34 minutes in last Wednesday's win over Rutgers, but exploded on Notre Dame for 17 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Dieng dominated the paint against the Red Storm last season with 12 points, nine rebounds and seven blocks, but he'll certainly be challenged by the freshman Obekpa this time around.