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Louisville Cardinals vs. Evansville Purple Aces - 11/11/16 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Evansville Purple Aces (25-9) at Louisville Cardinals (23-8)

College Basketball: Friday, November 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm (KFC Yum! Center)

The Line: Louisville Cardinals -18.5 -- Over/Under: See the Latest Odds

TV: ACCN EXTRA

We’ve got a fun opening-night college basketball matchup looming Friday at the KFC Yum! Center as the Evansville Purple Aces lock horns with the Louisville Cardinals. 

Evansville just finished off a strong but ultimately unsuccessful season in 2015-16, posting a 25-9 record (12-6 in MVC) and defeating Missouri State and Indiana State in the Missouri Valley Tournament. The Aces lost in the conference championship game to Northern Iowa and missed out on a postseason tournament despite having 25 wins. 

Louisville Cardinals vs. Evansville Purple Aces - 11/11/16 College Basketball Pick, Odds, and Prediction

USA TODAY Sports

Evansville takes a hit this year on the roster, losing out on their top two scorers from 2015-16 in DJ Balentine (20.5 PPG) and Egidijus Mockevicius (15.7 PPG). Mockevicius in particular will hurt on the boards, as he fed the Aces 14.0 rebounds per game last season. Missal Brzoja is also gone from Evansville, taking his 7.8 PPG and 3.5 RPG with him. The good news is that Jaylon Brown will return to the Aces after posting 10.8 PPG last season. 

Over on the Louisville side, they’re entering play here after going 23-8 (12-6 in the ACC) in 2015-16, good enough for fourth place in a tough conference. That said, a self-imposed postseason ban kept the Cardinals out of both the ACC Tournament and the NCAA Tournament. 

Louisville will have some big holes to fill right out of the gate, as their top three scorers from 2015-16 have left. Damion Lee (15.9 PPG), Trey Lewis (11.3 PPG) and Chinanu Onaku (9.9 PPG; 8.5 RPG) are gone from the Cardinals roster, but the team still retains Quentin Snider (9.4 PPG; 3.5 APG) and Donovan Mitchell (7.4 PPG; 3.4 RPG) to round out their top five scorers from last season. VJ King should also provide some solid minutes as an incoming five-star recruit. 

Evansville is 3-1-1 ATS in their last five non-conference games, and 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall. Evansville is also 0-4 ATS in their last four road games, and the under is 5-0 in the Purple Aces’ last five overall. 

Meanwhile, Louisville is 3-1-1 ATS in their last five home games, and 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games overall. The under is 9-2 in the Cardinals’ last 11 overall, and the over is 5-2 in Louisville’s last seven Friday games. 

With the ban in their rearview mirror, Louisville should come into this opener as focused and ready as possible. Rick Pitino is no stranger to year-to-year turnover, and he should be able to guide this new-look Cardinals team toward another solid season. I’ll take Louisville to cover here, but the game might be a little closer than some people think.

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Louisville Cardinals -18.5

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