The No. 4 Louisville Cardinals travel to Virginia to take on the No. 12 Cavaliers tonight at 7pm on ESPN, in a game that’s sure to be a low-scoring offensive struggle.
It’s no secret that Virginia has had their way with the Cards since Louisville entered the ACC. Many people go as far to say that Tony Bennett is Rick Pitino’s kryptonite when comes to these head-to-head matchups. No one fully knows why, but it’s painfully obvious Louisville struggles against the patented-Virginia Packline defense. Louisville has yet to score 60 points against Virginia during their time in the ACC and only has 1 win against the Cavaliers. Add in injuries to Quentin Snider and Tony Hicks, along with suspensions for Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel, and now you’ve got a historically struggle of a game with only 7 scholarship players.
The odds are heavily stacked against the Cards tonight and honestly, I’ll be happy with 100% effort and a close game with the way things are going today. “TV” Ted Valentine is officiating the game tonight, which means things could get weird, very weird. Rick Pitino mentioned he believes he found the answer to the stout Virginia defense, one-on-one penetration. If that is the true answer, the Cards at least have the best player in the nation right now as far as that goes. Donovan Mitchell has been a problem for nearly every defense he’s been faced with since the start of 2017 (outside of Florida State). If Donovan can get in the lane, score, draw fouls, and hit the open shooter then the Cards could have a chance tonight. The very important second part after breaking down the defense is hitting shots. The Cards will have to shoot an unusually high percentage tonight to pull off a road win that would’ve been difficult with a full roster, much less while missing 4 of the team’s important players.
It’s a tall task and it won’t be easy. Logic and realism say that a win tonight is unlikely, but I’ve got a weird feeling that tonight isn’t going to follow that script. Donovan Mitchell has stepped up every time he’s been asked to lately, who’s to say he can’t do that tonight, in a big way? I’m throwing logic to the side tonight and saying the Cards steal a win tonight and crack 60 points for their first time in the ACC against Virginia. Louisville 62-Virginia 58.