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The top-ranked Louisville Cardinals tangle with the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the first game of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. The 2018 V Week for Cancer Research set a new record, helping raise more than $8.3 million for the V Foundation for Cancer Research
Louisville enters the game on a nine-game winning streak while Texas Tech has lost three straight. With their win over Pitt on Friday, the Cardinals improved to 6-2 as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll while the Red Raiders are 0-6 all-time against top-ranked squads. The contest marks the first time that the programs have met.
Louisville Cardinals off to its best start in five yearsLast outing: Louisville moved to 9-0 and 2-0 in ACC play on the season following its 64-46 home victory over Pitt on Friday. Louisville's defense was once again stifling as the Cardinals held the Panthers scoreless for five different stretches between three and six minutes. The Cardinals held the Panthers to 21 points in the opening half and 25 over the final 20 minutes, giving the defense four consecutive halves of holding teams under 25 points and eight total halves overall. Louisville held Pitt to only 38% shooting from the field and 3-for-12 from the three-point line. Offensively, Louisville connected on a season-high 11 triples with eight different players knocking a triple down.
🔥 Friday vs. Pitt: Just the 5th time in school history that 8️⃣ different players have hit a 👌 in the same game and the first time it’s ever happened all in one half 🔥 pic.twitter.com/kxdt3qVhpm— Louisville Basketball (@LouisvilleMBB) December 8, 2019
The Spin: The nine straight wins are the Cardinals most to start the season since opening the 2014-15 campaign with 11 in a row. It was also the second consecutive win for the U of L as the No. 1 team in the nation, which improved their record to 6-2 as the top-ranked squad in the Associated Press poll. Nwora has led the team in scoring in all nine games this season and is averaging 21.6 points along with 7.6 rebounds for the season. Nwora was named ACC Co-Player of the Week on Monday as he averaged 20.5 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.5 assists in wins over Michigan and Pitt. Williams saw his most minutes (20) of the season against Pitt as he is still working his way back after missing the first four contests of the season. Ryan McMahon led the three-point barrage as he made three of six from long-distance to finish the evening with 11 points. McMahon has scored in double-figures five times this season and has had multiple three-point contests on seven occasions. Leading rebounder Dwayne Sutton, who set a season-best mark with five assists versus Pitt, has scored just seven points over the last two games as he has missed five of his seven shots. Senior center Steven Enoch has been wildly inconsistent rebounding the ball over the six games and hauled in a season-low two boards in 19 minutes against Pitt.
Louisville is averaging 77.1 points on 49.6% shooting and 39.1% from beyond the arc or the season. The Cardinals are also grabbing 39.9 rebounds, doling out 15.6 assists and turning the ball over 11.7 times a game. Defensively, U of L is permitting 57.6 points on 35.3% shooting from the field and 27.3% from long-distance. The Cardinals are allowing 10 offensive rebounds and forcing 10 turnovers a game.
Texas Tech has prime opportunityTexas Tech (5-3) is spiraling downward. Texas Tech started the year ranked 13th in the nation, but the Red Raiders are now unranked. TTU has dropped three straight, including a 65-60 overtime loss to DePaul last Wednesday, where the Red Raiders blew two four-point leads late in regulation and overtime. Turnovers were a big problem for Texas Tech as they tied a season-high with 22 while also shooting 39.6% from the field.
"We've been in three close one-possession games where a basket or a stop there and our record and our mood feels a lot different," coach Chris Beard said. "To me, you stay the course. We could be sitting here with an 8-0 record instead of three losses, but we're still the same team. The idea is to get better each game, and I think we are doing that. It hasn't shown on the scoreboard yet, but I remain confident that it will. This game is bigger than college basketball. The things coach Jim Valvano did by winning a championship speaks for itself, but his platform in life with cancer research is so much bigger than basketball. That's how we feel about this game. We are honored and proud to be a part of this game."
The spin: Texas Tech has lost three straight non-conference games for the first time since the 2012-13 season. The Red Raiders have not lost four consecutive games during the non-conference schedule since 1990-91. Texas Tech is getting 58.3% of its scoring from its underclassmen and 65.1% from its newcomers. Freshman Jahmi'us Ramsey, who leads the team with 17.3 points a game, has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury. Shannon has now scored in double-figures in three of his last five contests and has made all five of his three-pointers during this span. Edwards has scored in double-figures in six straight games, averaging 11.8 points along with six rebounds, and 3.6 assists a game during this span. Davide Moretti struggled against DePaul making just one of 10 shots from the field, although he did reach double-figures for the seventh time this year as he finished the game with 10 points. Moretti has made at least one three-pointer in seven games, but he has made only 11 of 37 shots from the field, including six of 21 from long-distance. After reaching double-figures in each of his last two games, Chris Clarke had four points against the Blue Demons, although he grabbed 11 rebounds and doled out four assists. Senior TJ Holyfield did not score in his last outing and only tallied just two points over the previous two games.
Texas Tech is averaging 79 points on 46% shooting from the field and 34.8% from the field. The Red Raiders are nabbing 40.4 caroms, doling out 8.3 assists and committing 14.4 turnovers a contest. On the other end, TTU's defense is permitting 65.1 on 40.0% shooting from the field and 34.4% from beyond the arc. The Red Raiders are also allowing just over seven offensive rebounds and forcing 15 turnovers a contest.
- Red Raiders are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.
- Red Raiders are 4-16-1 ATS in their last 21 games following a straight-up loss.
- Red Raiders are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Red Raiders are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Cardinals are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing less than 50 points in their previous game.
- Cardinals are 16-5-2 ATS in their last 23 Tuesday games.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
I believe that this could be a competitive game, mainly if Ramsey can give it a go. If Ramsey is unavailable once again, the biggest question where are the points are going to come from. Regardless I am taking the Cardinals in this game as they are playing top-flight basketball on both ends of the court. Nwora has ascended to top-tier level star, and he has played his best basketball against the Cards' three Power-seven opponents, producing 21.3 points along with 10 rebounds a game. Texas Tech probably will start either Edwards or Clarke on him, but DePaul forward Paul Reed is coming off an excellent game against the Raiders. Enoch has a size advantage over Holyfield, and he as well Sutton should be able to control the boards. Plus, whoever Moretti guards -- likely Darius Perry/LaMarr Kimble or McMahon -- could be up for a big game. In addition, Texas Tech doesn't do a great job in transition or out to their opponent's three-point shooters.
Prediction: Louisville -7.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Prediction: Under 130.5