Monday, December 26, 2011

PS Bowl-A-Thon 2011: Belk Bowl

The Where and When:
10th Annual Belk (name and sponsor has changed several times) Bowl, Charlotte, NC – December 27st, 5:00 p.m. – ESPN

The Who:
Louisville Cardinals – Big East Conference (7 – 5) versus North Carolina Wolfpack- Atlantic Coast Conference (7 – 5)


The Why:
The Louisville Cardinals were the co-champions of the Big East and had a shot at a BCS game until late in the season. Their consolation prize is playing a an ACC team that struggled for most of the season, but turned in a couple of late big wins to put them in one of the lower level bowl affiliations for the ACC.

Since this game is in Charlotte, both NC State and Louisville should bring a decent amount of fan support with them. Charlotte typically gets a pretty good crowd for this game since it is in between Christmas and New Years and Charlotte is always a good road trip. The area known as “Uptown” is where most fans will be indulging in libations before and after the game and who better to give the local economy a boost than drunken college football fans.

What Smartypants Accounting Guy Would Tell You:
Defense is going to win this game. Both schools come into this game with a top 40 nationally ranked total defense with Louisville at 23rd and NC State at 39th. While both teams struggle on offense with Louisville being ranked 104th and NC State coming in at 93rd nationally in total offense. The one statistic that jumps out is that NC State is ranked 5th nationally in turnover margin while Louisville ranks 68th. When a team can play solid defense and create turnovers they are going to be tough to beat, regardless of the caliber of the offense.

The player to watch in this game is Louisville freshman quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The couple of extra weeks of practice should really benefit a player like Bridgewater who became a starter not long after to getting to campus. The extra practice and film study will continue his development as a quarterback and he will be able to rely less on just athletic ability.

Pool Prognosticators Pattern:
It may be a coincidence, but I finally watched The Hangover II last night, so maybe I should continue the Wolfpack theme and go with NC State. However, Louisville was one of the hottest teams at the end of the season winning five out of their last six games. The one loss in those six games was to Pittsburgh in the middle of November. Not to be out done NC State defeated eventual ACC Champion Clemson in November and won three of their last four. NC State was my actual pool pick just for the simple fact that I did not want to wager any money on an average Big East team.

Vegas Edge:
NC State is a one point favorite in this game and the over/under is at 44. As you can tell the smart folks in the sportsbooks have taken into account the strong defenses and bad offenses with a really low over/under.

Sweatpants Verdict:
I am going to have to go with NC State in this game, the difference in this game will be the turnover battle which throughout the season the Wolfpack have shown they can win.

No comments: