#4 Louisville Cardinals vs. #1 Kentucky Wildcats Predictions 3/31/12

Last Updated: March 29th, 2012 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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You aren’t going to find two teams in college basketball that have a bigger rivalry than the Louisville Cardinals and the Kentucky Wildcats. The two will meet in the Bayou to kick off our 2012 Final Four predictions on Saturday night in what might be one of the most anticipated games that we have seen in college basketball in quite some time.

2012 Final Four Matchup: #4 Louisville Cardinals vs. #1 Kentucky Wildcats
Final Four Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, LA
Final Four Date/Time: Sunday, March 31st, 6:00 p.m.
Louisville vs. Kentucky Television Coverage: CBS

Key #1: The Cardinals have to knock the Wildcats off of their game
… And that mean cranking up the pressure defensively. There were times against the Florida Gators in the Elite 8 that the Cardinals didn’t seem to have the same type of intensity that they did against, say the Michigan State Spartans. In that Sweet 16 matchup with the Big Ten champs, Louisville was able to absolutely take the Spartan out of what they wanted to do offensively, and in the end, it was good enough to put a lay a big time beat down on them. Against Florida at the end of the game, the defense showed those flashes once again. If the Cards can do this against MSU and Florida, there is no reason to think that a Kentucky team that has a ton of guards that have little to no experience at this level fits as well. What we have seen with the Wildcats in the past is that physical games can be concerning to them, especially if Terrence Jones doesn’t have his best stuff, so we do think that the possibility is there that the ‘Ville can accomplish this goal. Louisville has to make sure that it really gets in Kentucky’s head though, and forces a ton of turnovers and stupid fouls. That being said…

Final Four Odds at Wager Web Sportsbook
Louisville Cardinals +9
Kentucky Wildcats -9
Click Here to Bet Your Final Four Picks!

Key #2: Louisville has to stay out of foul trouble
We’re looking at you, Peyton Siva, Gorgui Dieng, and Chane Behanan! These three were in foul trouble all night against the Gators, and it was up to Head Coach Rick Pitino to try to figure out the crucial moments to get these three into the lineup. When they were off the court, Louisville really struggled, especially defensively, and as we have already determined, this is the calling card for this team. If Gorgui gets into foul difficulties, all of a sudden, the Cardinals don’t look like all that great of an interior defensive side. They are going to be up against it for sure at that point, as the three big boys, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Terrence Jones, and Anthony Davis could be dominating on both sides of the court. The Cardinals have to be aggressive, but they have to be smart, and they have to make sure that they don’t commit all that many foolish fouls to take themselves out of the game.

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Key #3: The Wildcats have to take their time and keep this game at a reasonable pace
Though you would think of Louisville as a team that loves to push the basketball, that isn’t really necessarily the case. Sure, Pitino would rather start to put pressure on the opposition on both sides of the court, and as a result, there are a lot of points that are scored in transition. Kentucky has had a habit in this tournament of running perhaps a bit too much. The team has allowed at least 66 in all four of its games in the tourney, and that came after allowing fewer than 60 points per game in the regular season. Sure, the offense has the ability to get the job done as well, but we just don’t see this Louisville outfit allowing in the 70s, let alone in the 80s (or in the 100s!) as the Wildcats have reached in all of their games in March Madness. That means that Marquis Teague has to be smart with the basketball and that all of these youngsters that don’t have all that much experience need to keep their heads on straight. This was a team that shot just 33.9 percent from the field and jacked up 27 three-point shots against the Connecticut Huskies in the Final Four last year. That just can’t be the case once again if the Wildcats hope to move on to the finale on Monday.

Click Here to get the best March Madness picks that you’ll find on the internet, including our NCAA Tournament picks and the Final Four picks for the rest of the NCAA Tournament game odds.

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Posted in NCAA Basketball - Last Updated on Thursday, March 29th, 2012 @ 2:47 am (EST)
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