Mar 31, 2013, 11:36 AM EST
Louisville came into the NCAA tournament as one of the country’s hottest teams and that hasn’t changed in its pursuit of the Final Four. Now, coach Rick Pitino and the Cardinals are one win away, impeded only by a long-standing symbol of college basketball supremacy, Duke. Can Coach K and the Blue Devils continue to run on the fuel of strong guard play into the Final Four? Check out a position-by-position preview below:
Duke point guard Quinn Cook has been much more of a facilitator than a scorer in three NCAA tournament games thus far. Through three rounds, he is averaging 3.7 points on 4-of-21 shooting from the floor, but also has 19 assists to just six turnovers. His ability maintain the pace Sunday will be key for Duke against a Louisville defensive attack that will want to speed him up and turn him over. If that cycle of turnovers to points starts taking hold for Louisville, we end up seeing stretches like in the second half against Syracuse in the Big East tournament title game.
On the other hand, both Seth Curry and Rasheed Sulaimon have carried the offensive load. Curry went for 29 points in the win over Michigan State, while Sulaimon had 21 against Creighton and another 16 against the Spartans.
For Louisville, the major question facing Louisville coming into the tournament was whether or not Peyton Siva and Russ Smith would play like they did around this time last year or slump like we had seen at points during the season. Smith has been a consistent scorer through three games, while Siva has been steady. Siva needs to outplay Cook on Sunday.
Ryan Kelly has not been nearly as hot in the NCAA tournament as he was when he initially came back from injury toward the end of the season. His ability to stretch the floor from the power forward position makes it easier for Curry, Sulaimon, Cook, and Plumlee to create and get good shots for themselves. Will he turn it on today?
Louisville will have to counter with Montrezl Harrell, Wayne Blackshear, and Chane Behanan. If we add Luke Hancock into the mix of forwards, his ability to stretch the floor as Kelly does and hit from the outside adds another dimension to Louisville offensive attack.
Mason Plumlee versus Gorgui Dieng will be one of the better one-on-one post matchups we’ve seen in this tournament. Plumlee has been the senior centerpiece for Duke all season, while it has been striking to see the development of Dieng on the offensive end to be a passer and legitimate scorer to complement Louisville’s other pieces.
Dieng will need to be the presence in the paint that Michigan State lacked in its loss to Duke. His ability to deny and keep Duke’s guards away from the rim will be crucial on Sunday. If he can block shots and force Duke to take more jump shots than it is comfortable with, missed shots and run-outs added to turnovers would tilt the table in Louisville’s favor.
Tip off is at approximately 5:05 p.m. ET.
Dec 13, 2013, 9:08 AM EST
GAME OF THE WEEKEND: No. 23 Iowa at No. 17 Iowa State, Fri. 9:30 p.m. (all times eastern) It’s been a while since this in-state rivalry game held as much meaning as it does this season. The Cyclones enter the season as one of the nation’s most surprising teams, a group that Fred Hoiberg has…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:09 PM EST
While Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon’s decision to start junior guard/forward Dez Wells at point guard when the season began was made due in part to the fact that Wells was Maryland’s best playmaker, the decision may have done more harm than good in the early going. For some point guards understanding the balance between…
Dec 12, 2013, 9:58 PM EST
In his three-plus seasons at LIU-Brooklyn, senior point guard Jason Brickman has been one of the more productive point guards in the country. With a career average of 8.6 points per game the San Antonio native isn’t a prolific scorer, but when it comes to setting up his teammates Brickman’s been sensational. On Thursday night…
Dec 12, 2013, 8:45 PM EST
With the graduation of Rotnei Clarke and the season-ending injury suffered by Roosevelt Jones before the season even began, the Butler Bulldogs found themselves with some serious adjustments to make in their first season as a member of the Big East. One player asked to step up under first-year head coach Brandon Miller has been…
Dec 12, 2013, 7:00 PM EST
Now that we’re a month into the college basketball season, it’s a good time to take a look at the impact that the new points of emphasis regarding contact have had on the sport. Of course there have been some foul-fests due to the combination of players and officials working to adjust to the rules…
Dec 12, 2013, 5:18 PM EST
With there being just six games on tonight’s schedule due to the majority of schools finishing up finals week, Thursday may qualify as one of the least active days on this season’s college basketball schedule. But that doesn’t mean there are no games of importance, as Maryland visits Boston College in the ACC opener for…
Dec 12, 2013, 2:47 PM EST
Boston College: For my money, Boston College has been the most disappointing team in the country this season. The Eagles have the talent to be a factor in the NCAA tournament discussion with Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson surrounded by a solid group of role players. But they aren’t tough enough and they don’t defend.…
Dec 12, 2013, 2:07 PM EST
Another day, another update on just how beat up Michigan State is. According to Joe Rexrode of Freep.com, Matt Costello was not at practice, Gary Harris had his right ankle in a cast, Keith Appling’s wrist and hip were bothering him, and Adreian Payne’s plantar fasciitis was feeling good enough that he could practice. Those…
Dec 12, 2013, 1:54 PM EST
In a new series here on College Basketball Talk, every Friday we’re going to have a discussion about some of the hot topics in college basketball. The inaugural installment focuses on the ACC, the now 15-team conference that some stated was the greatest conference ever assembled before a game had been played. Now that we’ve…
Dec 12, 2013, 1:13 PM EST
Does Kentucky have an attendance issue? According to John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader, they do. Which is crazy when you think about it. Because this is the same program that brings in crowds for scrimmages and Midnight Madness that would set records at just about any other school in the country. But Clay’s got…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:31 AM EST
The former N.C. State coach Sidney Lowe has pleaded guilty to failing to file his North Carolina state tax returns for three years. According to the AP, Lowe received a suspended 45-day jail sentence, 36 months of unsupervised probation, and 100 hours of community service. He must pay more than $79,000 in back taxes plus a…
Dec 12, 2013, 11:03 AM EST
John Henson does not appear to be a fan of the NCAA. He’s in the NBA now, making millions as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, which makes it seem like a strange time to lash out like this until you consider the plight of his former teammates, P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald. North Carolina’s…
Dec 12, 2013, 9:57 AM EST
On Thursday morning, the Cincinnati basketball team released a statement announcing that redshirt sophomore Jeremiah Davis will be transferring out of the program at the semester break. Davis’ family was struck with tragedy when their home was ravaged by a fire last month, and he made the decision to leave the Bearcats for a program…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:55 AM EST
GAME OF THE NIGHT: North Dakota State 73, Notre Dame 69 Marshal Bjorklund went for 26 points to lead North Dakota State to an upset win over Notre Dame on the Joyce Center on Wednesday night. It’s the second time that the Irish have lost at home this season, and that fact has Raphielle Johnson…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:21 AM EST
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson threw down this nastiness on New Mexico State on Wednesday night. Hollis-Jefferson is starting to emerge as one of the best players on this Arizona team. He’s versatile, he’s aggressive, he plays hard and he defends. He’s an athletic, ego-free baller, which is exactly the kind of piece that championship team have. He’s…
Dec 12, 2013, 12:12 AM EST
Last season Arizona forward Brandon Ashley was part of a trio of freshmen who arrived in Tucson amidst much fanfare. Joined by Grant Jerrett and Kaleb Tarczewski, the McDonald’s All-American was expected to hit the ground running in his debut campaign. While that didn’t happen Ashley was a productive member of a team that reached…
Dec 11, 2013, 9:40 PM EST
With the preseason favorites to win the Summit League visiting South Bend, tonight’s game against North Dakota State was no gimme for Notre Dame. And that’s exactly how it played out, as Marshall Bjorklund and his experienced teammates proved to be too much for the Fighting Irish to handle. Bjorklund scored 26 points on 11-for-14…
Dec 11, 2013, 7:45 PM EST
With some of the biggest names in collegiate athletics attending IMG’s Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York City, many of the major issues on the table were discussed. Among those issues were the possibility of giving scholarship athletes stipend to help cover the full cost of attendance, and how the NCAA members with the most…
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