On Wednesday I did as I normally do and reached out to CardNation. I love to reach out and let you guys be a part of the site. It is a site built for fans by fans. I know what I think will happen on Friday but I wanted to get some different opinions. This time I did things a little different. I asked for a member of the bbn to help out also. I asked one member from each storied fan base to send me a story on why their team would win. I was quite pleased with the results. @Jgro11 stepped up for the Cards and @mathboywonder stepped up for uk. I hope you enjoy their outlooks on Friday’s epic Battle Of The Bluegrass.
Guests first, here is @mathboywonder telling us why uk will win the game Friday and also what we would need to do to defeat Kentucky
The University of Kentucky (UK) will defeat the University of Louisville (UL), because UK is more talented. According to NBADraft.net, UK has four projected first-round picks, including top ten pick Julius Randle, while UL has one projected first-round pick. UK has five players projected to be selected in the upcoming NBA Draft, including a bench player, before unarguably UL’s best player Russ Smith. Louisville has very good collegiate players, but UK has professional prospects.
UK not only has more talent, but their talent is significantly larger. UK’s point guard is larger than UL’s starting small forward. UK is taller and more muscular at virtually every position, which allows UK to use their size to challenge UL at the rim with their guards and post players. UL is not in the top 50 in the country in blocked shots per game, which indicates that UL does not have a strong interior defensive presence to challenge UK in the paint, while UK’s stellar defense is led by their interior presence as evidenced by their top ten ranking in shot blocking. UK will also use their size advantage to unleash their exceptional rebounding game. UK is top five in rebounds and is the top offensive rebounding team in the country. UL has struggled with elite level rebounding teams as evidenced by 40% of their losses this season coming against teams that are in the top ten overall in rebounds per game.
UK has proven over John Calipari’s tenure at UK that they are simply better than Louisville. Calipari is 5-1 against UL, while at UK, including wins at the Yum Center, and a victory in the 2012 Final Four. Calipari has UK playing cohesively and they are improving every game. UK has proven that they can defeat UL already this season. UK beat UL on December 28th, by seven points, while UK’s best player and top ten projected NBA pick, Julius Randle, sat on the bench for most of the second half due to cramps. UK’s freshmen have improved dramatically since then and should have no problems dispatching of Louisville on the Drive for Nine!
The University of Louisville will defeat the University of Kentucky, because UL is more equipped for the collegiate game. UL has a proven leader and terrific scorer in Russ Smith, a great rebounder in Montrezl Harrell, and a knock-down three-point shooter in Luke Hancock. UL is ranked in the top 15 in adjusted offense and top 3 in adjusted defense by Ken Pomeroy’s statistics. This indicates that UL is a complete team on both sides of the ball. UL has elite-level experience as the defending national champions. UL plays excellent team basketball and has built amazing team chemistry.
As great as UL’s offense is, their defense is even better. UL ranks second in the country in steals per game, which will create havoc against a UK team that is heavily turnover prone. UL will keep the pressure on UK’s young guards through their consistent pressing and UL will be able to force UK to turn the ball over due to UL’s quickness advantage. UL is also a deeper basketball team. UL has two terrific players in Wayne Blackshear and Mangok Mathiang coming off the bench.
UL has the best collegiate player, possibly in the nation, in Russ Smith. Smith can score the basketball from anywhere on the floor. Smith is a lightning-quick guard that can force turnovers and break down any defense getting other players involved. Smith is an underrated ball-handler and passer.
Louisville’s biggest asset will not take a single shot, grab a single rebound, or make a single pass in the game. UL coach Rick Pitino is widely considered one of the best basketball coaches in the nation on any level and Pitino is a Hall of Famer. Pitino is a phenomenal motivator, read Success is a Choice for further evidence, and always has his players giving their all. Pitino instills massive confidence in his players and they always believe in him. Pitino is 11-0 in Sweet Sixteen games and much like the Undertaker’s streak at WrestleMania, his streak is expected to continue.
Awesome stuff from @mathboywonder. He is a great and logical uk fan (I know) that I enjoy following and that is why I wanted him to do this. Very well done. Next up to bat is @jgro11 with his take on why Louisville is going to play on Sunday and uk will..rest..in….peace. Sorry @mathboy got me in my WWE promo state of mind. Moving forward….
As everyone knows, Friday night at approximately 9:45 pm the University of Louisville and University of Kentucky will do battle in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament in Indianapolis. Kentucky won the first meeting in Rupp Arena by a score of 73-66 all the way back on December 28. However, this game will have a very different outcome, as I expect the Cards to knock off the Cats in Indy.
When the two teams played back in December, Louisville was a much different team than they are now. Luke Hancock was dealing with a nagging ankle injury and could barely hit the rim on a jump shot. Montrezl Harrell was not the same player as he is now. According to basketball.realgm.com, Harrell averaged 10.9 points per game (ppg) and 7.6 rebounds per game (rpg) through the non-conference schedule. In the conference slate, Harrell averaged 15.5 ppg and 8.5 rpg, and has looked like an unstoppable force while doing so. Stephan Van Treese has also played much better since senior day against UConn, where Van Treese had 6 points and a career high 13 rebounds. According to the Courier-Journal, Van Treese has averaged 9 rpg, including 4 offensive rpg over the last six games. Along with the emergence of point guards Chris Jones and Terry Rozier, Louisville is the hottest team in the country, coming into the Kentucky game winners of their last seven, and have won 14 out of the last 15 overall. The national media has criticized Louisville for the first two games of the NCAA Tournament; however, after squeaking by Manhattan, Louisville absolutely dominated the last 15 minutes of the St. Louis game, handing SLU their worst loss of the season by 15 points. That included a six point loss to Wisconsin and a five point loss to the team Kentucky just shocked, the previously unbeaten Wichita State Shockers.
Louisville will not win the rebounding battle against Kentucky, the Cats are just too big and too lengthy to beat on the boards (seemingly nobody has been able to out rebound UK all year). According to ESPN, in the December game, UK out rebounded UofL 44-36. However, if Van Treese and Harrell can at least make the Cards competitive on the glass and give UofL timely rebounding, than Louisville will have a much better chance to win.
Throughout the season (according to the Courier-Journal Louisville is 16-1 when they make seven or more 3 point shots. In the December meeting, Louisville was only 6-26 (23%) from behind the 3 point line. Over the course of the season, Louisville has been known as a good shooting team, with Hancock, Chris Jones, Russ Smith, Terry Rozier, Wayne Blackshear and even Tim Henderson in his limited playing time have all proven the ability to hit the long ball, all shooting over 30% for the season. I expect the Cardinals to shoot better than this time around and reach the magic number seven.
Louisville also owns a 29-3 record when it commits fewer turnovers than its opponent. Louisville forces 17.4 turnovers per game while the Cards only turn the ball over 10.6 times per game. Louisville leads the nation in turnover margin with forcing 6.8 more turnovers than UofL gives up. Louisville needs to force UK, and more specifically the Harrison twins, to turn the ball over. If the Cards win the turnover battle, that will allow UofL to get into transition, which is where Russ Smith and company have played their best all year. According to the Courier-Journal, Louisville shoots the ball 11 percentage points better in transition than they do in the half court. Getting into transition also spreads the floor out, which neutralizes Kentucky’s biggest advantage, their height and length.
Louisville will win the game because of being a much improved all-around basketball team. While the Cardinals will not beat the Cats on the backboards, UofL will be able to stay competitive enough to try to minimize the Wildcat advantage. Louisville will be able to turn Kentucky over to speed up the tempo of the game and spread the court to get easy baskets. UofL will also shoot the ball well from the outside the three-point arc and get to the magic number seven. Rick Pitino will improve to 12-0 all time in the Sweet 16, and Louisville will win the game by a final score of 82-78.
Also excellent work there Jack. I thank both of you for taking part in this article and showing why I have THE best followers in the world, well at least in my book.
Make sure you give both a follow on Twitter.