2013 NCAA Picks - Midwest: Louisville vs Duke

Posted Mar 31, 2013

Predicting and projecting every NCAA Tournament game - Midwest Region

2013 NCAA Basketball Tourney

Midwest - Regional Final

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How are our picks so far? Straight Up: 12-2 ATS: 9-5

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Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know, we're CollegeFOOTBALLNews.com, but like the rest of the world, we take a wee bit of a break for NCAA college basketball tournament.  SCROLL DOWN for the earlier round picks and quick looks.

No. 1 Louisville (32-5) vs. No. 2 Duke (30-6)
Line: Louisville -3.5
Why To Pick Louisville: Pressure - it's unrelenting. Oregon didn't give up too many mistakes with just 12 turnovers, but it was taken totally out of its game offensively and had no answer defensively for Russ Smith. The Cardinals didn't play their tightest game with too many mistakes and problems on the defensive glass, and they still won with ease by answering every big challenge. Duke might be nailing everything from the line and was on from outside against Michigan State, but this isn't a deep team and it's about to get pushed.
Why To Pick Duke: After dealing with Michigan State, handling Louisville on the interior isn't going to be a problem. Duke lost the rebounding margin, but it was effective when it had to be and clamped down from three. The Spartans couldn't change the momentum with the Blue Devil D coming up big on the perimeter and rolling in transition. Duke can play Louisville's game and keep up if needed. This is a careful backcourt that doesn't screw up under pressure.
The Pick: Louisville 72-67. Ryan Kelly hasn't found his stroke for the Blue Devils yet, and it's not going to happen against the Cardinal D. Smith will be held in check, but the rest of the team will pick up the slack.


No. 1 Louisville (31-5) vs. No. 12 Oregon (28-8)
Line: Louisville -10
Why To Pick Louisville: The Cardinals are killing teams with takeaways. The defense doesn't have to set up the offense with all the transition points coming, forcing Colorado State into 19 turnovers and never letting the game to get close.  Oregon might have rolled through its first two games, but it kept screwing up in the blowout over St. Louis with 18 turnovers. This could get ugly fast if the Ducks can't be more secure with the ball.
Why To Pick Oregon: The Ducks can run with Louisville without a problem. It's a deep team that has no problem keeping everyone fresh in the rotation with balanced scoring around the three point shooting of Damyean Dotson - Oregon hit 8-of-11 from three against the Billikins. Colorado State wasn't bad from three and did a decent job on the offensive glass. If the Ducks can hold their own on the misfires and keep Louisville from getting hot from deep, they can be a good matchup.
The Pick: Louisville 71-64. The Pac-12 tournament champions have been fantastic so far, but they're going to have problems on threes against the Cardinal guards. Expect lots of run and gun with free throws deciding it late.
FINAL SCORE: Louisville 77-69

No. 2 Duke (29-6) vs. No. 3 Michigan State (27-8)
Line: Duke -2
Why To Pick Duke: Let's get physical. This isn't the finesse Blue Devil team of recent years, getting nasty up front and battling when it has to. Everyone is chipping in, killing Creighton on the boards with seven different players coming up with four rebounds or more, and it should be more of the same against a Spartan team living off of cleaning things up. MSU overcame a slew of mistakes against Memphis by wiping away every missed shot early on, but Duke will hold its own.
Why To Pick Michigan State: Creighton didn't hit its threes against Duke and had no hope of staying in the game late. The Spartans aren't going to live by their perimeter shooting, struggling from deep against Memphis but winning in a walk anyway. Blue Devil star Ryan Kelly can't shoot a lick lately and the backcourt could have serious problems when the defensive intensity cranks up. Duke will bang away, but the guards have to be on.
The Pick: Michigan State 72-70. Expect a great war. The Spartans will win the rebounding margin by ten, coming up with a few key boards late.
FINAL SCORE: Duke 71-61


No. 1 Louisville (30-5) vs. No. 8 Colorado State (26-8)
Line: Louisville -11
Why To Pick Louisville: he defense isn't going to let Colorado State do what it wants on the inside, and it's going to bother the Ram guards into turnovers and problems as the game goes on. The Cardinals are too aggressive and too quick in the backcourt and won't get hammered on the boards like Missouri was.
Why To Pick Colorado State: The Rams came up with a nearly perfect game against Missouri with hot three point shooting while absolutely dominating on the boards. As long as the Rams can find a way to make Louisville shoot from the perimeter, keep the running game under wraps, and get to the line like they did in the first game, they'll have a shot.
The Pick: Louisville 84-75. Get ready for a fun track meet. Dorian Green will do his part for Colorado State matching Russ Smith play for play, but the Cardinal defense will do just enough late to keep on moving.
FINAL SCORE: Louisville 87-56

No. 4 St. Louis (28-6) vs. No. 12 Oregon (27-8)
Line: St. Louis -4
Why To Pick St. Louis: The Billikins do a great job of moving the ball around and should be far more settled offensively than Oklahoma State was. As good as the Ducks were, they turned the ball over way too often and can be pressured into mistakes. The St. Louis guards are great in transition and fantastic and converting off mistakes, and they should get their chances.
Why To Pick Oregon: St. Louis could get destroyed on the boards. Arsalan Kazemi came up with 17 rebounds against Oklahoma State; St. Louis was outrebounded by 11 by New Mexico State. The Ducks can work inside and out better than St. Louis can, and they should be able to get on the move and come up with more than their share of transition points. St. Louis doesn't turn the ball over often, but everything should work off the boards.
The Pick: Oregon 73-69. The Ducks will keep the momentum going with good work on the boards and just enough big plays from the guards to hold on in a back-and-forth battle.
FINAL SCORE: Oregon 74-57

No. 3 Michigan State (26-8) vs. No. 6 Memphis (31-4)
Line: Michigan State -5.5
Why To Pick Michigan State: Does Memphis have any prayer of rebounding with the Spartans? As always, Michigan State is great on the boards from all spots, and there shouldn't be any problem whatsoever getting plenty of second chance points. MSU was firing on all cylinders inside and out in the opener against Valpo, but more than anything else, the defense clamped down hard on the guards. Without much of a front line, Memphis could have the same problems.
Why To Pick Memphis: The Tigers are feisty with the defensive pressure coming up with a whopping 12 blocks against St. Mary's. D.J. Stevens and company get in the shooter's face extremely well and don't give many open looks - the Gaels came up with just 3-of-15 from three.  As good as MSU was against Valpo, it was a turnover machine and will give away too many easy plays.
The Pick: Michigan State 69-60. It won't be a dominant effort, but the home crowd and the play in the interior will move the Spartans forward.
FINAL SCORE: Michigan State 70-48

No. 2 Duke (28-5) vs. No. 7 Creighton (28-7)
Line: Duke -5
Why To Pick Creighton: Duke's perimeter defense left a lot to be desired in the first round. Albany was able to nail 9-of-15 from three and had way too many easy looks. After going 7-of-15 against Cincinnati, Creighton should be able to stay hot from the outside and stay alive with a few big shots. Not awful on the boards, the Bluejays will hold their own up front.
Why To Pick Duke: The Blue Devils cruised by Albany without Ryan Kelly doing much of anything. Mason Plumlee and Seth Curry went off, and they should be able to match the Creighton gunners shot-for-shot. The D should come up with its share of takeaways and shouldn't have a problem converting.
The Pick: Duke 78-72. The two teams will trade punch for punch until Kelly takes over. Duke will have too many weapons and the defense will step up when it has to.
FINAL SCORE: Duke 66-50


No. 1 Louisville (29-5) vs. No. 16 North Carolina A&T (20-16)
Line: Louisville -26.5
Why To Pick Louisville: The Rams had to hang on for dear life to get by Liberty in the play-in, sorry, first round game. There's no scoring pop from the A&T backcourt that'll get throttled by the Cardinal guards. One big scoring burst should end the fun.
Why To Pick NC A&T: The defense is just good enough to slow things down and keep the Cardinals from taking off on fast breaks time and again. If they can somehow stay alive early and take the air out of the ball, the game could be dragged into the mud.
The Pick: Louisville 72-51. The Cardinals won't have any problems coming up with the win, but it might not be the track meet they'd like to get into.
FINAL SCORE: Louisville 79-48

No. 8 Colorado State (25-8) vs. No. 9 Missouri (23-10)
Line: Missouri -3
Why To Pick Colorado State: Rebounds, rebounds, rebounds. The Rams have to win on the boards and they have to keep Missouri from getting second chance points. This is a good defensive team that's able to keep offenses cold for long stretches.
Why To Pick Missouri: The Tigers have too much offense. The Rams have to keep the score relatively low and have to win by not making mistakes, but the pace could quicken up in a hurry. Mizzou is the more talented team that can get after it defensively, too.
The Pick: Missouri 70-65. CSU will keep the game nip-and-tuck the whole way, but talent will win out with the Tigers going on a run to pull away late.
FINAL SCORE: Colorado State 84-72

No. 5 Oklahoma State (24-8) vs. No. 12 Oregon (26-8)
Line: Oklahoma State -3.5
Why To Pick Oklahoma State: The offense can keep up any pace. Oregon's attack has potential, but it's maddeningly inconsistent and makes too many big mistakes. The Cowboy defense is great at turning errors into transition points, and there should be several easy buckets.
Why To Pick Oregon: When the Ducks are on, they can hang around with anyone in the tournament. The light might have finally gone on in the Pac-12 tournament and are coming in red hot with a solid defense and Dominic Artis doing just fine at the point after getting his legs back a few weeks ago. He should be able to handle the OSU pressure.
The Pick: Oregon 70-67. Way underseeded because the tournament committee didn't have any place to put the Pac-12ers, the Ducks will come in fired up and focused. The normal mistakes will slow down a bit and the mediocre shooting won't be a problem.
FINAL SCORE: Oregon 68-55

No. 4 Saint Louis (27-6) vs. No. 13 New Mexico State (24-10)
Line: St. Louis -9.5
Why To Pick St. Louis: Aggressiveness. NMSU could be deadly in a half court set, but it'll have a hard time getting there. The Billikins have the ability to win the turnover battle by a huge margin and keep the score low, but if there's going to be a scoring burst in any way, they'll be the ones to do it. They can run, the Aggies can't.
Why To Pick New Mexico State: Rebounds. The massive 7-5 Sim Bhullar isn't the only one who can hit the boards. The Aggies get rebounding help from all sides including star guard Daniel Mullins. St. Louis is going to have problems with any team with size and toughness in the front court, and NMSU could have the right combination.
The Pick: St. Louis 67-62. This is a dangerous, dangerous game for a St. Louis team that doesn't have the size up front to handle Bhullar. However, too many Aggie mistakes will turn into too many easy points for a St. Louis team that will finally be able to breathe in the final five minutes.
FINAL SCORE: St. Louis 64-44

No. 6 Memphis (30-4) vs. No. 11 St. Mary's (28-6)
Line: Memphis -1
Why To Pick Memphis: Is it possible for the Tigers to play the No One Respects Us card? After a terrific season and a Conference USA title, Memphis is the hot team to get upset early in the brackets, but this is a good team of athletes that can fly up and down the court far better than St. Mary's. If this gets into any sort of a shootout, MU has the advantage.
Why To Pick St. Mary's: Free throws. The Tigers make too many mistakes and aren't exactly rock-solid from the strips. The Gaels can run with just about anyone and isn't going to have any problems bombing away from deep. They'll give up points, but they'll keep up the pace.
The Pick: Memphis 80-74. The Tigers will get over a few turnovers here and there to hit the open shots available. St. Mary's doesn't have the defense to stop the Memphis athletes and playmakers.
FINAL SCORE: Memphis 54-52

No. 3 Michigan State (25-8) vs. No. 14 Valparaiso (26-7)
Line: Michigan State -9.5
Why To Pick Valparaiso: There's a chance the Crusaders can bomb their way into the next round if everything beaks the right way. If the Spartans let up for a little bit, Valpo has the ability to go on a quick run and score in bunches to stay around. This is one of the best-shooting teams in the nation.
Why To Pick Michigan State: Rebounds. Valpo might not miss much, but there won't be any second-chance points. The Crusaders don't hit the boards at all and have to rely on their perimeter shooting game. MSU should be able to clamp down outside.
The Pick: Michigan State 70-58. It'll be a dogfight for around 30 minutes, and then the MSU defense will turn out to be all the difference as Valpo goes cold late.
FINAL SCORE: Michigan State 65-54

No. 7 Creighton (27-7) vs. No. 10 Cincinnati (22-11)
Line: Creighton -3
Why To Pick Creighton: The Bluejays can shoot their way out of any jam and can go on spurts that Cincinnati can't. The Bearcats have problems with teams that can hit from the outside on a regular basis, and that's Creighton. Simplistically, Creighton can just outscore UC.
Why To Pick Cincinnati: If Creighton isn't hitting, it's uh-oh time. Yes, the offense might be lethal and might put up huge numbers, but a lot of the stats came against the weak and the sad. If the Bearcats can be aggressive on the defensive boards, they'll have a shot.
The Pick: Creighton 68-62. Cincinnati just won't have the offense to keep up.
FINAL SCORE: Creighton 67-63

No. 2 Duke (27-5) vs. No. 15 Albany (24-10)
Line: Duke -18
Why To Pick Duke: Albany doesn't have any speed or high-octane scoring ability whatsoever. While Duke might like to move a little bit, it'll have no problems bogging down, using its half-court defense, and controlling the boards and the pace. The Danes will have a nasty time scoring inside.
Why To Pick Albany: Can the score be kept low? Albany wants to slow things down to a dead stop, and if Duke plays along, there's a chance the game could be kept in range into the second half.
The Pick: Duke 78-55. Can Albany score? It'll try to take the air out of the ball, but it won't be able to score enough to make up for the quick Blue Devil points.
FINAL SCORE: Duke 73-61
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