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Key to Cashing a Winning Ticket: Which defense will rule?
Both teams have turned the West bracket upside down with inspired performances on the defensive end.
Rick Pitino’s full-court press has always received publicity for its effectiveness, but Florida is making waves with its stretch run of suffocating defense beginning in tourney time.
In their first game of the tournament as an underdog, the Gators held Marquette to 31 percent shooting. No player was exempt from the Gators’ defensive pressure, including Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder, who shot at a 30 percent clip.
Louisville, though, has been on a little run of its own.
Led by feisty point guard Peyton Siva, the Cardinals have been suffocating teams with their tiresome matchup zone defense. The Big East champions looked like they were playing a JV squad when they emasculated the Big Ten champion Michigan State on Thursday. Rick Pitino’s squad held the Spartans to 29 percent shooting, winning by 13 when it only shot 38 percent themselves.
The clash of defensive styles could turn into a game of streetball, with both teams alternating a full-court press. Every trek across half court will be a moral victory and an exhausting endeavor.
Numbers to Know
Florida: 16-15 (9-2 in past 11 NCAA tournament games)
Louisville: 21-13-1 (On a 7-0 ATS run)
Prediction: When in doubt, go with the team that plays both offense and defense. Take Florida (-1.5)