Finding a chink in the oddsmakers’ armor is tough come tournament time. But we peel back Saturday’s Elite Eight matchups, looking for some underlying mismatches that could make or break your college basketball bets this March.
Michigan Wolverines vs. Florida Gators (-2.5, 131)
Wolverines’ freshmen vs. Gators’ ability to create turnovers
Florida ousted Florida Gulf Coast with strong defensive play that included 20 turnovers. The Gators have forced an average of 16.3 turnovers in the tournament and reached elite status to their suffocating defense, which yields a mere 53.7 points per game on 38 percent field goal efficiency -- those last two figures ranking in the top-five nationally.
While Florida is loaded with seniors and NCAA tournament experience, the Wolverines have three freshmen in their starting lineup. Trey Burke and Co. showed they can handle the heat in their triumph over Kansas, but will truly be tested by the Florida defense Sunday. The Gators have been to this point in the tournament each of the last two years and could have the edge should the game come down to the wire.
Duke Blue Devils vs. Louisville Cardinals (-3.5, 137)
Blue Devils’ ability to pull away quickly vs. Cardinals’ 3-point shooting woes
Duke can score in a hurry because of its accuracy from long range. The Blue Devils ranked fifth in the country in 3-point percentage (40.3) and have the edge when it comes to putting space between them and the Cardinals. Sharpshooter Seth Curry was 6-for-9 from beyond the arc in Duke’s win over MSU.
Louisville could have a tough time playing catch-up as they don’t fire from 3-point land nearly as well as Duke. The Cardinals ranked 217th in the nation in 3-pointers made per game (5.7) and have averaged just over four per game in the tourney. Louisville went 4-for-13 from long range in its win over Oregon in the Sweet 16 and relies more on its ability to score points off turnovers.