Florida State Seminoles vs. Louisville Cardinals
Monday, January 18th, 2020 – 7:00 PM ET at KFC Yum! Center
● Florida State Seminoles: 7-2
● Louisville Cardinals (#16): 9-2
Stakes of the Matchup
Most college basketball games are inconsequential. There are hundreds of teams, and only 68 of them make it to the big dance. To make it to the NCAA tournament, teams have to either win their conference or make it as an at-large team. Typically, teams in weaker conferences must win their conference to make the tournament. What makes the ACC different is that they are currently ranked as the third best conference in college basketball. As a result, the ACC expects to send several teams to the national championship tournament each year.
In the last NCAA tournament almost two years ago, the ACC sent seven teams including eventual national champion Virginia. This season Virginia is at the top of the ACC standings, so Florida State and Louisville are likely to make the big dance only as at-large seeds. Currently, Louisville is ranked as the 16th best team in the country, but they look vulnerable after a Saturday loss to Miami. Florida State has a 7-2 record and has yet to play a ranked team.
Currently, Louisville has a 4-1 conference record which puts them a game behind conference leader Virginia in the standings. Florida State has a 3-1 record putting them 1.5 games out of first place. KenPom projects the Cardinals to finish with an 11-7 conference record while the Seminoles will finish with an 11-6 conference record. Despite Louisville being ranked and FSU not being ranked, KenPom ranks Florida State as a slightly better team. Monday night’s nationally televised ESPN game is going to be consequential and it is viewed as a tossup from a betting angle.
How Louisville and Florida State Matchup
While both Louisville and Florida State are evenly matched in the standings, both teams have vastly different styles of play. The Cardinals are a slow-tempo team that prefers to control the clock. Louisville averages only 67.4 possessions per game which is the 23rd slowest offense in college basketball. Florida State’s offensive tempo is close to the median as they average 72.6 possessions per game.
If Louisville jumps to an early lead, look for them to try and kill as much clock as possible. Against Miami, they were down the whole game so that is why a combined 150 points were scored going over their 132-point total. Typically, in close games where Louisville is ahead, they will look to run down the clock the other team will pick up the pace. Against Virginia Tech, 67 points were scored in the first half and 77 in the second half. Against BC, 61 points were scored in the first half and 79 points in the second half. If you are live betting tonight’s game, you should look to take the over on the point total if Louisville is ahead at halftime.
In terms of defense, neither team has an edge. KenPom ranks Louisville’s defense as having the 40th best defensive efficiency in college basketball while Florida State has the 44th best defensive efficiency. The Seminoles allow only 69.7 points per game, while the Cardinals allow 64.4. However, the Cardinals allow fewer points per game because of their tempo of play, not because they are a more efficient defensive team.
On offense, Florida State is much better than Louisville. According to KenPom’s ratings, the Seminoles have the 14th best offense in the country while the Cardinals have the 34th best. Currently, Florida State averages 79.1 points per game, while Louisville averages 71.2 points.
The oddsmakers for the most part have correctly priced tonight’s game. Louisville should be slightly favored based on their previous performances, but Florida State will not be an easy opponent. While I would typically back a team like Florida State based on how well they have played, I believe that Louisville is undervalued because of their loss on Saturday against Miami. As a result, the spread is correctly set.
The best bet for tonight’s game is to bet that under 66 points will be scored in the first half. Louisville plays at a slow tempo on offensive, so they will look to control the clock early in the game. Additionally, both teams are decent on defense so we are unlikely to see a shootout until the second half. I believe that the first half will not involve much scoring and that is why I am taking the under on the first half point total.
College Basketball Pick: First Half Under 66 Points (-110) at William Hill