When I'm putting my bracket together next year, I'm just putting whomever wins the Big East Tournament right through to the Final Four. Louisville has strung together an incredibly impressive run through their last eight games in the Big East and March Madness tournaments, going 8-0 SU and ATS which means they've been a gold rush for NCAA Basketball bettors who backed them during this run.
Standing in their way, however, is the best team in the country by a long shot. Kentucky took their conference final loss to heart and we can all thank Vanderbilt for waking a sleeping giant. Not only have the Wildcats been toppling their opponents, they've been decimating them. They're winning by +13.75 points per game in the tournament thus far.
That's made Kentucky a bit of a lean play in March Madness. After finishing their season and championship week with a 5-1 SU and 2-4 ATS record, they've gone undefeated in the tournament and also earned a 3-1 ATS record. That lone spread loss was the -26.5 line they had against Western Kentucky in the opening game, and they won that match by a score of 81-66. Hard to fault them.
#4 Louisville Cardinal (30-9) vs. #1 Kentucky Wildcats (36-2)
Saturday, March 31st --- 6:05pm EST
March Madness Betting Line: Kentucky -8.5 (137.5)
To keep matters in to perspective, it's not like Louisville is a pushover. They went 22-13-1 ATS this entire season, and also faced Kentucky on New Year's Eve losing 69-62 in Kentucky with a +10.0 handicap. That should offer a glimmer of hope. What Louisville excels at is keeping tough games close. They shut down Michigan State 57-44 and also outpaced the Gators 72-68 to reach the Final Four.
Louisville has to be at their absolute best to keep up with Kentucky, which is playing with a sense of purpose that no other team left can match. Kentucky's transition offense is a blinding thing of beauty, and Louisville simply doesn't have the legs to keep up with Kentucky at full pace for a full game. Indiana tried that tactic, and ran out of steam.
Let's consider that Baylor and Indiana, who Kentucky throttled on route to this game, threw the kitchen sink at Kentucky and both lost by 12 points each. Louisville has had seemingly much stiffer competition, but Florida and MSU were both overachieving to a large extent in the tournament and throughout the year.
Also keep in mind that Kentucky has six guys who are good enough to be first round picks in the NBA Draft, with their two best players (Kidd-Gilchrist and Davis) probably going first and second overall. Louisville has zero players with that pedigree. When that kind of talent finally gels together under a guy like Coach Calipari, it's almost insane to go the other way. We've seen giant killers before in the Final Four, but with a week to prepare for a fairly limited Cardinal team, Kentucky has every reason to incinerate the scoreboard and leave Louisville in their dust.
Furious Final Four Free Pick – Kentucky -8.5 (UNDER)