Minnesota Golden Gophers vs Louisville Cardinals: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

Where: Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, IA, USA.

When: Thursday, March 21st at 12:15pm EST.

How (TV/Radio): CBS; March Madness Live Stream on ncaa.com

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Head Coach: Richard Pitino {Overall: 21-13, .618 W-L% | Conference: 9-11, 7th in Big Ten}

After a one year hiatus, the Golden Gophers are March Madness participants for the second time under Richard Pitino, and the 14th time in school history. The program’s last tournament win came in 2013 under former coach Tubby Smith.

Minnesota managed to make the field of 68 despite an up and down season which saw them beat Purdue twice, along with losses to Big Ten basement teams in Rutgers and Nebraska. The second Purdue win, which came in the conference tournament played a pivotal role in solidifying Minnesota’s tournament berth.

The Gophers are led by in-state product, Amir Coffey who is averaging 16.3 points per game. Coffey, whose scoring output ranks top ten in the conference, has risen to the occasion in key games, most notably the 73-69 win against Purdue on March 5th, when he dropped 32 points on the Boilermakers while getting to the free throw line 18 times.

Louisville Cardinals

Head Coach: Chris Mack {Overall: 20-13, .606 W-L% | Conference: 10-8, T-6th in ACC}

The Cardinals are back in the tournament after missing out last year during former coach David Padgett’s lone season at the helm. This is the 43rd tournament appearance for the program and eighth this decade. A first-round upset would come as a surprise, as the Cardinals have managed at least one win in each of their appearances since 2011.

The first year of the Chris Mack era got off to a solid start, as the Cardinals notched big wins over Michigan State and at North Carolina. Louisville eventually cooled off near the end of the year, losing four of their last five. To be fair, two of those losses came against 2nd ranked Virginia, but another one of them came against lowly Boston College.

Louisville will be led by top scorer, Jordan Nwora who also led the team in rebounding. The 17.2 points per game scorer from Buffalo has stepped up big time for the Cardinals, as he managed to more than triple his scoring output from last season. Nwora has been consistent for the most part, putting together impressive outings Duke and Boston College, when he scored 23 and 32 points respectively. He has also had his share of duds, most notably in the ACC Tournament against North Carolina when he had just seven points.

Minnesota Roster Notes

Sophomore center Eric Curry is out for the season due to a foot injury suffered on March 5th.

Sophomore guard Marcus Carr is out indefinitely due to eligibility concerns and has not played all season.

Louisville Roster Notes

There are no injuries or roster changes to report for Louisville.

Head-to-Head: Jordan Murphy vs Christen Cunningham

Jordan Murphy

Power Forward | 6-6, 250lb (198cm, 113kg) | Brennan HS | San Antonio, TX | Senior

14.8 PPG | 2.7 APG | 11.5 RPG | 0.6 SPG | 0.9 h| 2.3 TOV | .483 FG% | .231 3P%

Christen Cunningham

Point Guard | 6-2, 190lb (188cm, 86kg) | Cordia HS | Georgetown, KY | Graduate

9.8 PPG | 4.9 APG | 2.2 RPG | 0.5 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 2.0 TOV | .469 FG% | .337 3P%

Deep runs in March are often driven by veteran leadership, despite what one-and-done apologists may say. Each of these seniors has carved out niche roles to put their teams before themselves and propel them to the tournament.

At 6-6 and a burly 250 pounds, Jordan Murphy is the antithesis to the modern day big man. The Texan uses his large frame to abuse opponents down low when crashing the glass and attacking the rim, rarely stepping out to the perimeter like many post players today. The Big Ten’s career leader in rebounds has put together some monstrous performances on the boards, with his highest output coming on January 19th when he nabbed 21 rebounds against Penn State.

Louisville’s Christen Cunningham, has served as the model senior leader for the Cardinals. After being a prime scoring threat during most of his time at Samford, the in-state product has focused his energy on being a pass-first point guard. The best example of this came in the Cardinals’ February 12th loss against Duke, when Cunningham scored zero points on just four shots while dishing out 12 assists.

Minnesota vs Louisville Predictions and Odds

Sports books are taking the chalk route by favoring the higher seeded Cardinals by 5 points over the Gophers. The most popular over/under amongst oddsmakers is 136.5.