Betting 'Big Monday' games

Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals hope to avoid a fourth straight loss. Cal Sport Media/AP Images

With football season over, college basketball soon will take the spotlight for gamblers. That means it's time for your weekly chaser columns to turn to college basketball, which has games every night across the country, so there are plenty of opportunities to try to beat the lines.

Every Monday, we'll take a look at the two games airing on ESPN from a gambling perspective, with a pick on the game from Teddy Covers here on Insider.

Pittsburgh Panthers at Louisville Cardinals

Spread: Louisville minus-6

PickCenter breakdown

Evidently, the worst thing that ever happened to Louisville was becoming the No. 1 team in the nation. In our first Monday night college basketball chaser of the year, we previewed the Louisville-Connecticut Huskies game, which was the Cardinals' first after being ranked atop the nation. Since beating UConn, Louisville has dropped three straight, all in the Big East.

Coach Rick Pitino called this a "must-win" game for Louisville. Considering coaches hate to label games as such, as well as the fact that it's only January, you get some understanding how badly Louisville is craving a victory.

The Cardinals have to get Peyton Siva out of his slump. Over the past three games, he's shooting 6-for-24 and was held without a point in Louisville's last game -- the first time he hasn't scored since his freshman year.

Pittsburgh comes in on a four-game winning streak, as well as a three-game road winning streak. The Panthers are coming off their largest win while playing in the Big East, a 38-point victory over DePaul.

Teddy Covers says: "Louisville is slumping, losers of three straight. All three losses have followed a similar pattern. The Cardinals have been right there with Syracuse, Villanova and Georgetown in the latter stages of the second half. They've had second-half leads in all three contests. But Louisville's crunch time execution has been awful, particularly on the offensive end of the court. There's a significant mental aspect involved in winning close games late, and right now, I really question the Cardinals' confidence level, even on their own home floor.