Manhattan Jaspers vs. Louisville Cardinals Pick-Odds-Prediction 3/20/14
Manhattan Jaspers (25-7) at Louisville Cardinals (29-5)
College Basketball: Thursday, March 20, 2014 at 9:50 pm (Amway Center)
The Line: Louisville Cardinals -16.5 -- Over/Under: 145.5 See the Latest Odds
The Louisville Cardinals play the Manhattan Jaspers in the 2nd round of the NCAA tournament in Orlando, Florida on Thursday night.
The Louisville Cardinals finished 29-5 on the year. Coach Rick Pitino will square off against his former assistant, Steve Masiello, as the defending national champion battles upstart Manhattan in the second round of the Midwest Regional on Thursday. Masiello served as an assistant under Pitino for six years with the Cardinals. Louisville enters the tournament on a roll. The Cardinals dominated the American Athletic Conference tournament winning the three games by a combined 110 points. The Cardinals were the talk of the selection shows getting just a No. 4 seed after being ranked fifth nationally in the final coaches' poll. Louisville shook off a bit of turmoil during the season with the dismissal of forward Chane Behanan but they are rolling now and got a career-high 42 points from standout guard Russ Smith in its 94-65 AAC semifinal win over Houston. Louisville trailed in the tournament for less than a minute and defeated Connecticut 71-61 to win the inaugural conference title.
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Manhattan finished the regular season with a 25-7 record overall. The Jaspers punched their ticket to the dance by upsetting top-seeded Iona 71-68 in the MAAC final March 10 to earn its first NCAA berth since 2004. The Jaspers used the hot hand of George Beamon to win the MAAC title. Beamon shook off a shaky start where he made just 1-of-8 shots in the first half of the semifinal game against Quinnipiac to pour in 19 second-half points and Manhattan cruised to an 87-68 victory. The Jaspers have had to pick up the slack for slashing guard Michael Alvarado, who has battled a sprained ankle for the past month and also suffered a broken nose against Quinnipiac. But forward Emmy Andujar helped ease the burden by scoring 40 points off the bench in the three MAAC games and Rhamel Brown earned all-tournament honors with an entire series of standout games on both ends of the court.
Both teams enter the tournament riding five-game winning streaks and this will not be an easy game for the Cardinals. Louisville is coming off a great run in the conference tournament and they may have a slight letdown coming in with some tired legs. Manhattan has a slight advantage with their coach being familiar with Louisville’s scheme. I think the Jaspers will keep this game close for at least half of the game and they will cover the spread in the end.