Pregame Breakdown: Louisville at Miami (FL)

After a long offseason, the 2019-2020 Louisville men’s basketball season is finally here. The Cards begin their regular season against ACC opponent Miami (FL) on the road in Coral Gables. With the ACC expanding its conference schedule to 20 games, Louisville plays two ACC games in November.

The game tips at 6:31 EST and will be televised on the ACC Network. Louisville is favored by 6.5 points.

It’s not the ideal way to start the season. You get an ACC team who you play every year and has an entire offseason to prepare for you. On the road, nonetheless, Louisville has one of its more difficult opening games compared to recent seasons.

Miami is coming off a disappointing year (14-14, 5-13) in which the Hurricanes missed their first NCAA tournament since 2015. They lost their best returning player, Dewan Hernandez, prior to the season due to an FBI related eligibility issue. Chris Lykes was was required to take on a high usage role and it just did not work out.

Lykes averaged 16.2 points per game last season, but he was wildly inefficient as one of the higher usage players in the ACC. They had five scorers in double figures, but no one could step up as a second playmaker and the team suffered.

The Hurricanes add a couple high major transfers and a good recruiting class led by 4-star guards Isaiah Wong and Harlond Beverly. The questions around this team from last season remain. Who will step up and take the pressure off of Chris Lykes? He will be good, but its not a great thing when anyone, much less a 5-7 point guard, takes on as much usage as Lykes did a year ago.

Louisville and Miami met once last season early in conference play. The Cards won 90-73 at home after trailing by 15 in the first half. It was very much a game of two halves, but Miami could not keep up with the Cards as the game sped up in the second period.

Louisville will not start the season at full strength. Malik Williams and David Johnson, two potential starting level players, both will miss a least the first couple weeks with injury. Steven Enoch returns after sitting out the Cards’ 10 point exhibition win over Bellarmine. Expect Enoch to enter the starting lineup. While I think the lineup will be much different later on in the year, it appears that Mack plans to start Perry and McMahon in the backcourt, with Nwora and Sutton joining Enoch in the front court.

It will be interesting to see how the freshmen are used tonight. Samuell Williamson scored 17 points in 31 minutes against Bellarmine. He should get plenty of time off the bat, but how the other freshmen will be integrated is still a bit of an unknown.

This is an unconventional way to start the season. If Louisville is truly a top 5 team in America, though, they should win this game tonight. With so many new pieces, I think the fanbase should temper their expectations for this team early. Regardless, anything less than a convincing win tonight will be disappointing.

Prediction

Louisville 82  Miami 71

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