Duke, Louisville Advance in Midwest Region
The Louisville Cardinals were huge favorites in this game, 10.5-point favorites at tip-off. However, the Oregon Ducks scrapped and scrapped and refused to go away for the duration of the game. Still, their grit wasn’t enough to overcome the Cardinals, who defeated Oregon 77-69 on a monster 31-point performance from Russ Smith. Louisville has now won 13 straight games by an average of 17 points, and they look well on their way to claiming the national championship in a few weeks. However, without the heroics of Smith, they may not have advanced past Oregon.
“We’ve been a great defensive team — not a good one, a great one — all season,” Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. “Tonight, their quickness was so good, all it did was wear us out defensively. But we had Russ Smith and Kevin really bail us out of some situations that could have gone either way.” Smith has scored 81 points in Louisville’s first three tournament games, a school record.
Louisville was getting it done on the offensive end, but they weren’t as effective as they usually were on the defensive end. They only scored 14 points off 12 turnovers, their second-lowest scoring total off turnovers this season.
“I told our guys, ‘We don’t have it tonight. It’s obvious,” Pitino said. “We’re winning with offense and that’s great, but we’ve got to start digging in and getting stops. We did it at the end.”
Despite the late Oregon surge, Louisville was propelled into the next round by the continuing excellence of Russ Smith’s play.
“Coach has been telling me to fight through it, fight through it, dig in. My teammates as well,” Smith said. “We’re fighting through it and just doing whatever we can to get a win.”
Duke Defeats Michigan State 71-61
The Duke Blue Devils were narrow one-point favorites against the Michigan State Spartans, but thanks to Seth Curry’s insane scoring night (29 points, 6-9 from three) Duke easily coasted by the Spartans by ten points.
“Seth was scoring on every possession, and it was almost like we felt like we could relax on defense,” Krzyzewski said. “When you’ve got a guy hot like that and you can put a couple of defensive stops with it, you can get separation… Seth was just at a different level than anyone else on the court offensively tonight. To get 29 points in a game like this against a good team is just incredible.”
Michigan State didn’t necessarily have a bad game, but Seth Curry was simply too hot, and almost singlehandedly overwhelmed the Spartans.
“We knew we would have to play at that level. They’re a little more athletic than we are,” Krzyzewski said. “We had to try to match that, and tonight we were able to do that. I’m glad it’s not a seven-game series because I’m not sure we’d be able to continue to do it. But tonight we were able to do it.”
Here were a few betting trends for both teams heading into the game, courtesy of OddsShark.com:
A few Spartans at Blue Devils trends to consider:
Duke is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing Michigan State
Duke is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Duke’s last 5 games when playing Michigan State
Duke is 1-5-1 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Michigan State