Syracuse-Louisville Headlines Saturday’s AP Top 25 Play

After topping the Associated Press poll on Monday, Louisville will look to remain top of the pops on Saturday. The Cardinals face a stiff test though with the visit of sixth-ranked Syracuse.

The showdown at the KFC Yum! Center (4 PM ET) headlines Saturday’s college hoops schedule, and makes for one of 13 games featuring teams ranked in the AP’s top 25. Here’s the BettingSports.com rundown of what to look out for on a busy day of hardwood action.

No. 6 Syracuse at No. 1 Louisville

Rick Pitino's No. 1 Louisville Cardinals will look to fend off the challenge of No. 6 Syracuse on Saturday.

Whilst Louisville (16-1, 4-0 Big East) topping this week’s poll might have been a surprise to some, Rick Pitino’s side has certainly had the season to match it. The Cardinals have dropped just one game, and that was to a fully-manned Duke side on Nov. 24. The side has gone unbeaten at home in the process.

Syracuse (16-1, 4-0 Big East) could make the argument that it deserves the No. 1 spot as much as Louisville. The Orange has posted an identical record to the Cardinals, only dropping a close game to Temple at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 22. The Orange is undefeated in true road games, and 1-0 against ranked opposition.

Syracuse is one of the top 20 offensive sides in the nation, averaging 79.0 points per game. The side’s defense is also a top 25 caliber weapon, allowing just 57.8 points per game. But Louisville is no slouch in either of those departments. The Cardinals average 76.9 offensive points per game, and give up 56.4 points per game. This is only the tip of how close these teams are.

Bookmakers like Louisville at home. The Cardinals opened as favorites with the spread set at 7.5 points. Louisville has tallied a 10-6-1 ATS record this season, while Syracuse is 8-4-1 ATS.

The total opened at 134.5. Louisville is 6-5-0 in favor of the over, while Syracuse is 6-5-0 favoring the under.

No. 8 Gonzaga at No. 13 Butler

David Stockton and the Bulldogs of Gonzaga look to defeat the Bulldogs of Butler on Saturday night, with both sides looking to build on impressive starts to the season.

In a battle of ‘Little Teams Done Good’, No.8 Gonzaga (17-1, 4-0 WCC) takes on No.13 Butler (15-2, 3-0 A 10) at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., during primetime.

Gonzaga is considered by many to be the best team out west, while Butler – in its first season in the Atlantic 10 – has proven it can hang with the big boys, knocking off Marquette and North Carolina along the way, and forcing Indiana to overtime.

Gonzaga’s list of conquests is a who’s who of big name programs, including Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Clemson. It’s not hard to see how the Zags have gotten things done. The side ranks eighth in the country in scoring at 80.3 points per game, and third in the nation in field goal percentage (.514). Those numbers may prove problematic for the Bulldogs of Butler.

The first meeting in history between the sides sees Gonzaga enter as a marginal favorite, with the spread at 1.5. The west coast Bulldogs have gone 9-6-1 ATS this season, while the Indianapolis-based Bulldogs have gone 10-5-0 ATS.

The total opened at 137. Gonzaga has gone 7-6 in favor of the over, while Butler has gone 8-3, also in favor of the over.

In Brief…

In the first of three other matchups between ranked teams, No. 17 Missouri (13-3, 2-1 SEC) travels to No. 10 Florida (13-2, 3-0 SEC) in the first meeting between the sides since the Tigers joined the SEC. Florida is a heavy favorite (-13.5) ahead of tipoff.

No.21 Oregon (15-2, 4-0 Pac-12) will make the journey to No.24 UCLA (15-3, 5-0 Pac-12), where both teams will look to remain unbeaten in conference play, and possibly move up the AP rankings in the process. The Bruins are favored (-5.5) at home.

In a rematch of last season’s Big Ten championship tournament final, No.11 Ohio State (13-3, 3-1 Big Ten) visits No.18 Michigan State (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten) looking to avenge a loss in that game. Both teams will be looking to stay the pace in a loaded Big Ten Conference. The line opened with the sides evens, but the Spartans are currently edging the spread (-2.5).

Saturday’s schedule also sees two AP Top 25 teams take to the hardwood as underdogs against unranked sides. Despite being the best shooting team in the nation, No.12 Creighton (17-1, 6-0 MVC) is a three-point dog in its trip to Wichita State (16-2, 5-1 MVC) while No.25 Marquette (13-3, 4-0 Big East) is a 6.5-point underdog at Cincinnati (15-3, 3-2 Big East).

 

Saturday’s AP Top 25 Schedule (in full)

No.6 Syracuse (16-1, 4-0 Big East) at No.1 Louisville (16-1, 4-0 Big East)

  • Favorite: Louisville Spread: 7.5 Total 134.5

No.4 Kansas (15-1, 3-0 Big 12) at Texas (8-8, 0-3 Big 12)

  • Favorite: Kansas Spread: 7.5 Total 125

No.7 Arizona (15-1, 3-1 Pac-12) at Arizona State (14-3, 3-1 Oac-12)

  • Favorite: Arizona Spread: 6 Total 134

No.8 Gonzaga (17-1, 4-0 WCC) at No.13 Butler (15-2, 3-0 A 10)

  • Favorite: Gonzaga Spread: 1.5 Total 137

No.17 Missouri (13-3, 2-1 SEC) at No.10 Florida (13-2, 3-0 SEC)

  • Favorite: Florida Spread: 13.5 Total 133.5

No.11 Ohio State (13-3, 3-1 Big Ten) at No.18 Michigan State (15-3, 4-1 Big Ten)

  • Favorite: EVEN Spread: N/A Total 130 (Michigan State has emerged as favorites (-2)

No.12 Creighton (17-1, 6-0 MVC) at Wichita State (16-2, 5-1 MVC)

  • Favorite: Wichita State Spread: 3 Total 138.5

No.15 San Diego State (14-3, 2-1 MWC) at Wyoming (14-2, 1-2 MVC)

  • Favorite: EVEN Spread: N/A Total N/A (San Diego State has emerged as favorites (-2.5)

Oklahoma (12-3, 3-0 Big 12) at No.16 Kansas State (14-2, 3-0 Big 12)

  • Favorite: Kansas State Spread: 6 Total N/A

Rutgers (12-4, 3-2 Big East) at No.20 Notre Dame (14-3, 2-2 Big East)

  • Favorite: Notre Dame Spread: 13 Total N/A

No.21 Oregon (15-2, 4-0 Pac-12) at No.24 UCLA (15-3, 5-0 Pac-12)

  • Favorite: UCLA Spread: 5.5 Total 146.5

No.22 Virginia Commonwealth (15-3, 3-0 A 10) at Duquesne (7-10, 0-3 A 10)

  • Favorite: Virginia Commonwealth Spread: 12 Total N/A

No.25 Marquette (13-3, 4-0 Big East) at Cincinnati (15-3, 3-2 Big East)

  • Favorite: Cincinnati Spread: 6.5 Total 128.5
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