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The top-two seeds in the Midwest Region will battle it out with a berth in the Final Four in Atlanta on the line Sunday, when the No.1 Louisville Cardinals take on the No.2 seed Duke Blue Devils. Both teams thwarted challengers on Friday night to reach the Regional final. This is the only No.1 vs No.2 Elite 8 matchup that we have in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, as the other three No.1 seeds have all been eliminated, two coming in the Sweet 16.
Louisville had to slow down a very hot Oregon team, who we can all say was underseeded at No.12 coming into the tournament. The Ducks defeated Oklahoma State and St. Louis on the way to a Sweet 16 berth and a chance to knock off the No.1 seed in the tournament. But thanks to Russ Smith, who put up 31 points on the night for the Cardinals, Louisville was able to get by Oregon 77-69 to continue their journey towards a national championship.
The Cardinals shot an impressive 54 percent from the floor on Friday night, and limited the Ducks to just 44 percent. Statistically though, this game was pretty even back and forth, with the two teams shooting relatively even from three-point distance. Louisville was able to make it to the free throw line eight more times than Oregon, and made seven more, a critical component that appears to be one of the big differences. The Cardinals will now face Duke in the Elite 8, which will present a new challenge entirely for coach Rick Pitino’s swarming defense. They look like they can matchup well, but limiting the three point field goals will be very important.
As for the Blue Devils, they battled it out with No.3 seed Michigan State for most of the 40 minutes in a great Sweet 16 game. The score, 71-61, wasn’t exactly indicative of how close the game actually was. Duke controlled a one-point lead at halftime, and the score remained close throughout most of the second half. But the simple fact was that the Blue Devils hit the big shots down the stretch to pull away and win rather comfortably.
Senior Seth Curry led the way for Duke, putting up 29 points, including going 6-for-9 from beyond the arc. When Curry is hitting shots like that, the Blue Devils are a very tough team to beat. Suffice to say that Curry will be looking to take advantage where he can against Louisville on Sunday night. But the nice thing that Duke has going for them is that both the inside post and perimeter shot has been working for them. Mason Plumlee will be a key factor once again. Duke has a ton of weapons that they can utilize, but then so too does Louisville.
LatestBettingOdds has found that the Cardinals are set as 3.5-point favorite in this one to advance to the Final Four. To cover the line, Louisville will need to win by at least four points. This is certainly an interesting betting line to check out, with Duke able to cover with a three-point loss or less. On the moneyline, Louisville is a -180 favorite, while Duke is set on the other side at +160. The over/under is set at 137 points.
(2) Duke Blue Devils vs. (1) Louisville Cardinals – Matchup (scroll to see more info)
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