Louisville vs. Minnesota Betting Guide: Is Either Team Set Up for NCAA Tournament Run?

Louisville vs. Minnesota Betting Guide: Is Either Team Set Up for NCAA Tournament Run? article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Dwayne Sutton and Amir Coffey

#7 Louisville vs. #10 Minnesota NCAA Tournament Betting Odds

  • Spread: Louisville -5.5
  • Over/Under: 135
  • Time: Thursday, 12:15 p.m. ET
  • TV: CBS
  • Location: Des Moines, Iowa

>> All odds as of Wednesday evening. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and live win probabilities on your bets.


You may have heard: Richard Pitino is coaching against the program where his father once won a national title before leaving in infamy. But the real story here is the late-season ugliness ON the court for both teams.

It would tough to find two programs that struggled more down the stretch. The Gophers went 3-7 after Feb. 1 to close conference play, and a court-storming win over Purdue may have been the only thing that got them comfortably in the field. They knocked off the Boilers again in the Big Ten Tournament before getting walloped by Michigan.

Louisville went 3-7 after Feb. 1 as well, but at least those losses were mostly to Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina, quite possibly the three best teams in the country.

Who will keep their season alive on Thursday in the first tournament game? Let’s dig in.

Louisville Doesn’t Do Much Well on Offense

Louisville’s offense wasn’t pretty, especially in conference play. The Cardinals shot the ball pretty well from deep (fourth in the ACC) but they had no real elite skill at that end of the court. They turned the ball over way too much (10th in ACC in turnover rate) and didn’t get to the free throw line very much. They didn’t do anything to create extra possessions.

Jordan Nwora was their leading scorer, but that was almost because of the absence of a go-to guy. Balance and reasonable shot-making got them to this point. In non-conference play, their signature win was over Michigan State, a game where the Cardinals shot 41 free throws(!), 18 more than Sparty. That’ll do it. My point is, there’s not a lot to like here.

I mentioned Louisville went 3-7 after Feb. 1, but the funny thing is, so many of the losses are completely explainable. North Carolina, at Florida State, Duke, Virginia, at Virginia. What were the Cardinals supposed to do? The ACC has the three best teams in the country. You’re going to lose those games often.

Still, when you see their offensive numbers, the good news is that Louisville is playing Minnesota, so it may not matter! The Gophers were abysmal on defense in Big Ten play, forced no turnovers, and allowed opponents to shoot a very high percentage from the field.

Louisville’s struggles, whatever they may be, may not haunt it in this game specifically, but later in the tournament they will. You can score on Minnesota, in pretty much every way possible.

Minnesota Offense Goes as Coffey Does

When Amir Coffey plays well, this team tends to do well. In Gophers’ home win against Purdue, he was excellent. In their second win over Purdue, he (and Jordan Murphy) were great. When Coffey scores in single digits, on the other hand, the team is 1-5 this season.

Minnesota’s big strength in this game is its ability to get to the foul line. The Gophers were the best in the Big Ten in conference play in free-throw rate. That’s good news in this match-up because Louisville fouls A LOT.

When Louisville has lost games it shouldn’t (Boston College, Pitt), it’s because the Cardinals were minus-double-digits in free throw attempts in those games. If Minnesota gets an officiating crew that’s prone to calling all contact, it can set up as a massive advantage for them.

Market Analysis, Bet to Watch

Minnesota does not profile as a team setup to make a run in the NCAA Tournament. The Gophers struggled mightily away from home in all parts of the season. Their defense is abysmal and they don’t force turnovers. They probably were one Purdue win away from being seriously on the bubble, and maybe out. All of these tend not to auger well when predicting future performance in this tournament.

The good news is they are facing a Louisville team that basically overachieved the whole year before finally coming back down to Earth. Neither of these teams has a great profile, nor do they possess skills that generally translate to NCAA success.

Louisville’s metrics are better, so it is the rightful favorite, but to me the number is correct. I do think Minnesota’s defense, combined with Louisville’s propensity to foul, could create an “over” situation compared to my projections, so we’ll call that a lean.

Ken’s Pick: Pass on Side, Lean Over at 135

Our Projected Spread for #7 Louisville vs. # 10 Minnesota

Get point spreads for this game and every possible tournament matchup with our bracket simulator built by Sean Koerner, our Director of Predictive Analytics, a former oddsmaker and FantasyPros’ most accurate in-season fantasy football ranker from 2015-2017.

  • Spread: Louisville -4
  • Total: 135
  • Proj Score: Louisville 69.5 | Minnesota 65.5
  • Win Probability: Louisville 64% | Minnesota 36%

Editor’s note: The opinions on this game is from the individual writer and are based on his research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.

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