After a year of no postseason basketball, Louisville opens their NCAA tournament as the 2-seed in the Midwest region against 15-seed Jacksonville State today in Indianapolis at approximately 2:45 on CBS.
Jacksonville State earned its bid against most odds by knocking off the 1 and 2 seed enroute to their conference championship. This is the first time the Gamecocks will appear in an NCAA tournament game, thanks to new coach Ray Harper. Harper may be new to Jacksonville State, but he’s no stranger to Louisville. He was the infamous coach of the WKU team remembered vividly among Cardinal fans for the incident with 4 Hilltoppers and Montrezl Harrell a few years ago.
Louisville opened as a 22-point favorite, 4th highest among opening NCAA tournament spreads, but the line has since moved down to 18.5.
Jacksonville State is led by Junior Guard #21 Malcolm Drumwright at 12.6 PPG. Another player to watch is Sophomore Forward #31 Christian Cunningham, he averages nearly a double-double at 8.4 PPG and 8.2 RPG, which is best on the team.
Length won’t be an issue for Louisville today. The Cards should own the paint, as well as the boards today. In order for Jacksonville State to have a shot at an upset bid, they’ll have to hit a lot of outside shots. The Gamecocks shoot 37% as a team from deep, which ranks them 75th in the country.
Louisville should have no problem today, but as seen in recent years, a 15-seed beating a 2-seed has become an almost annual event. Louisville will not fall into that statistic today.
Louisville 87-Jacksonville State 65.
My picks for other games in the Midwest region:
Oklahoma State 83-Michigan 76.
Rhode Island 72-Creighton 66.
Oregon 80-Iona 72.
Miami 71-Michigan State 68.
Kansas 82-UC Davis 65.