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Louisville vs California Picks – Experience leads Golden Bears to second round

Posted by Washington Tucker on 3/16/2010 2:44:28 PM

Online betting players have seen the college game get younger each year, but a team like California with all of their senior players stands out on the NCAA landscape this season. The Golden Bears will face Louisville in the first round on Thursday, and Cal has the discipline and team game to beat a team like Louisville, who will get on a run but find it difficult to play 40 full minutes.

  • What: NCAA Basketball Betting
  • When: Friday, March 19th – 9:45 PM ET
  • Where: Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena – Jacksonville, FL
  • Key Stat: Cal’s seniors have scored 5,677 points in four years

The Louisville-California Storyline

The Cardinals were all over the road this year en route to the ninth seed in the South region, and a pair of wins over Syracuse, the No.1 seed in the West region, along with a double-overtime win over Notre Dame are their claims to fame for the season. The Cardinals just were too inconsistent over the course of the Big East schedule, and some can’t put any faith in them. However, they’re coached by Rick Pitino, the only coach to take three different programs to the Final Four, and he’s guided the Cardinals to two straight trips to the Elite Eight.

The Golden Bears rolled to the Pac-10 regular-season title, but they were beaten pretty soundly by Kansas, Syracuse and Ohio State in their non-conference games. Cal then fell to a hot Washington team in the Pac-10 tournament final, but they’ve got enough experience to get over that loss quickly, and they deservedly are the highest seed to come out of the Pac-10.

Offensive Matchups

The Cardinals came 35th in the country in scoring, but they took too many three-pointers for a team that doesn’t shoot them very well. Senior guard Edgar Sosa played his best basketball since a freshman year that had everyone pegging him as one of the next great guards, while Samardo Samuels did well in the post despite lots of double teams from opposing squads who doubted the Louisville shooters. Jerry Smith, Jared Swopshire and Preston Knowles all shot south of 40% this year, and we’re not sold on Kyle Kuric, the sophomore guard who came out of nowhere to lead the Cardinals to a famous win over Syracuse in the finale at Freedom Hall.

The Golden Bears are an efficient team, ranking in the national top 20 in both field-goal and free-throw percentages. In a rare oddity in today’s college games, the Golden Bears’ top four scorers are all seniors, which means they don’t get rattled easily. Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher have played together for four years and are the heart and soul of the team, but it’s Jamal Boykin who has really stepped up as the Golden Bears’ post player. For a team whose biggest starter is 6’8”, Cal shoots the ball as well as anyone

Betting Edge: Cal

Defensive Matchupss

The defense hasn’t always been there for the Cardinals, and they could be in trouble if Smith, who was hurt in the second Syracuse game and missed their 69-66 loss to Cincinnati in the opening round of the Big East tournament. They play a zone, but they miss the length of Earl Clark and Terrance Williams on the wings.

The Golden Bears rebound surprisingly well for such a small team, but they don’t block many shots or steal the ball often. Boykins is their leading rebounder, but the entire team goes to the glass for Cal. They depend more on a team game and a system than their talent, but they can be hurt by a team who can attack the rim, which could be right up Louisville’s alley. Cal also can’t get in foul trouble, because they have no depth.

Betting Edge: Even

Injuries

Louisville’s Smith (thumb) is the only player to watch before you head over to make your sportsbook pick.

Betting Edge: Cal

Betting Prediction: Louisville vs California Picks

The Cardinals are a 1.5-point favorite as a lower seed, and this is the first meeting between these two teams. The Cardinals were rarely blown out and played well in hostile environments at Kentucky, Pitt and West Virginia, although all were losses. The Golden Bears had a good year, but they were shaky on the road, and as mentioned above, they fell flat in their big games. This would be a good game for the Cardinals to go to Samuels, who would have a size advantage over Boykins in the post. But we’re still not sure if the Cardinals are disciplined enough to stick to this gameplan, and they haven’t been able to put it together all season, while the Golden Bears are experienced and hungry after a first-round loss to Maryland last year. They won’t make that mistake again.

Washington’s Pick: Cal +1.5

Check out Washington’s weekly sports betting tips and articles in BetOnline’s the Betting Edge.

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