College Basketball Spread - No. 7 Florida Gators vs. No. 4 Louisville Cardinals

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

By  Scott Cooley

NCAA Betting Online: A Star Wars theme is playing out in the Elite Eight round of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. When the Florida Gators and Louisville Cardinals meet on Saturday, a former Jedi apprentice will aim to defeat his old Jedi master.

Billy Donovan was a guard on Rick Pitino’s Providence team that made it to the Final Four in 1987. After Donovan played the Wall Street game for a few years he came back to the hard court to work for his old coach as an assistant.

It’s the old adage: Pitino taught Donovan everything he knows about basketball.

"I've said that outside of my parents, he's the most influential person in my life," Donovan said.

Donovan has won national championships with Florida twice while Pitino only has one title in his storied career. But the teacher has owned the pupil when they’ve met, going 6-0 all-time versus Florida. But this is the first postseason showdown.

The Gators are back in the Elite Eight for the second straight year. They lost to Butler in overtime as 4-point favorites, but that experience should be invaluable because many of the players are still on the team.

One who wasn’t is freshman Bradley Beal. Donovan has been urging the blue-chip, NBA prospect to be more assertive on the offensive end and he delivered big in Thursday’s win over Marquette.

Beal filled up the stat sheet with 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a pair of blocks. He only missed two of his 10 shots from the floor.

“Bradley Beal is their swing vote. He’s versatile. He plays multiple positions,” Marquette head coach Buzz Williams said.

Florida covered the college basketball spread Thursday as 1-point underdogs behind the 68-58 win. The Gators have won all three of their tourney contests by double digits and an average of 23.3 points. They are 4-0 ATS in their last four outings.

Florida was the best team in the nation in 3-point shooting during the regular season but when shots were falling from deep against Marquette (7 of 27), the Gators leaned on their defense.

The Golden Eagles were limited to 31 percent shooting from floor and 29 percent from 3-point land. They were the first to crack 50 points on Florida in the tourney but the Gators have allowed the third-fewest points (153) in tournament history through three games. Florida did a superb job getting back and not allowing Marquette to get into its transition offense.

You saw what Louisville looked like when it wasn’t connecting from the field Thursday. The Cardinals and Spartans both started the game ice cold and had a combined 12 points at the 10-minute mark of the first half.

But the Cardinals started to heat up and made 7 of 15 shots from downtown, which gave them a 5-point lead going into halftime. They would never relinquish the upper hand and eventually knocked off No. 1 seed Michigan State, 57-44.

The Cards have been on a roll since the Big East Tournament, which Pitino said gave his young team a ton of confidence. They have won six in a row and covered college basketball spread in all of them.

Louisville’s win on Thursday was also all about the defense. Instead of the normal gameplan of trapping, Pitino had his players go over the top of screens and push the Spartans out. The idea was to make MSU work extremely hard to get the ball into the paint to their bigs.

It worked because the Sparties could not penetrate the pesky zone defense. And when they did, 6-foot-11 center Gorgui Dieng was there to reject any offerings, recording seven blocks on the night.

Pitino’s zone has been suffocating throughout the tourney. MSU shot under 23 percent from the field and committed 11 turnovers when Louisville was in a zone, and the Spartans’ 44 points were fewest ever from a top seed during the shot-clock era.

No opponent has made more than 24 percent of its 3-point attempts against UL in the last seven games. The under is 10-1 in the Cardinals’ last 11 outings.

The college basketball spread for this contest was released by BookMaker at a PK while the total opened at 131. Donovan-led Florida teams are 13-3 SU and 12-4 ATS in the Round of 16 or better. Minute-by-minute spreads, totals and props are available for this game using the live betting platform at BookMaker.

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