Virginia Cavaliers vs Louisville Cardinals
Well, it’s the same old story in college basketball. There are those on the mountaintop and there are
those who are not. Between Gonzaga, Virginia and Duke, those teams combine for a record of 68 – 3 with
only 5 of those wins coming by way of a close game, one within 5 points at the final buzzer. Of those five
games that were close, four of them happened to be on the road. This game spells disaster for Louisville,
in my opinion. The Virginia team was just beaten by Duke by ten points not long ago. Since that loss, all
they’ve managed to accomplish is to go undefeated against the likes of Notre Dame, North Carolina, and
Virginia Tech. If I had to guess, I’d say that trend will continue. They will be fiercely competitive, they will
come out looking to make a statement, and I guarantee that defense will be looking to shut it down. The
Cavaliers are favorites in this game.
Louisville Needs to Find Win
Louisville has been everything but hot as of late, going 2-4 in their last six contests. They struggled
mightily against Clemson, a game in which they ended up winning by only one point. Otherwise, they’d
have lost all but one game in the last six tries, and against teams that are relatively mediocre as far as the
ACC is concerned. Don’t forget, the ACC is perhaps the premier basketball conference in the nation.
We’re talking about teams like Florida State, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh all handing losses to this Louisville
team this year.
Cavaliers Looking to Get Hot
According to the experts at ESPN, the Virginia Cavaliers have a 91.4% chance to win the game. The real
entertainment factor for me in the game will be watching the Virginia defense shut down the Louisville
offense. The Cardinals average over 76 points per game, which is an important stat for two reasons. One,
the Cavaliers only average just under 72 points per game, and, two, the Cavaliers, on average, only give up
54.6 points per contest. Over twenty points separating what the Cardinals typically produce and what the
Cavs normally give up. That’s as close to a brick wall as the Cardinals will see all season. I think they will
be shocked by the lack of production on the offensive side and, frankly, I think it will stunt their confidence
in the game early, resulting in a very long night for Chris Mack and his squad.
I think that another area of focus will be the three point game of the Cardinals. They have just one player
on the roster who’s attempted over 50 shots with a shooting percentage of over 39 percent from deep
range. That is one way to combat Virginia’s aggressive, stifling defense. If a team has fewer
possessions and less open shots, they must make more happen with the fewer opportunities they do get.
They must score three instead of two whenever possible.
Virginia Tops Louisville
To contrast, the Virginia roster has three such players, each of whom average over 42% from beyond the
arc. They can do more with less and demand more from both ends of the floor. It’s tough to defend three
different players with range and accuracy, but especially so when there is such pressure to keep the score
manageable due to lack of offensive opportunities. I think Virginia wins this one 76 – 62.