Skip to content

Louisville-Duke Preview: Legendary coaches and more with Final Four berth on the line

Mar 31, 2013, 11:36 AM EDT

Louisville Cardinals players and coach Pitino celebrate basket agasint Syracue Orange during second half in Big East NCAA men's basketball game in New York Reuters

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:

Guards

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.

Forwards 

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.

Centers

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.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Latest Posts
  1. San Diego hires New Mexico assistant Lamont Smith as new head coach

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Lamont Smith, right, is San Diego's new head coach (Getty Images) Getty Images

    San Diego turned to a former player to lead the basketball program.

  2. Washington State losing three players to transfer

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    Jackie Davis, Brett Boese, Lucas O'Brien AP

    Head coach Ernie Kent is losing three first-year players after his first season at the helm.

  3. Report: Murray State guard Cameron Payne heavily considering NBA Draft

    Mar 31, 2015, 7:50 PM EDT

    Cameron Payne, Reece Chamberlain AP

    Could Murray State guard Cameron Payne enter the NBA Draft?

  4. UNLV’s Rashad Vaughn signs an agent and enters NBA Draft

    Mar 31, 2015, 6:40 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    UNLV officially loses Rashad Vaughn to the NBA Draft.

  5. Rhode Island lands impact transfer from Towson

    Mar 31, 2015, 5:35 PM EDT

    BB&T Classic Getty Images

    Rhode Island landed an impact transfer on Tuesday.

  6. Georgetown’s D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera heading to NBA Draft

    Mar 31, 2015, 4:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Georgetown takes a major hit with the loss of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera.

  7. Southern Illinois loses five to transfer, coach rips the decisions

    Mar 31, 2015, 3:22 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Barry Hinson is not happy about losing the players he brought into the program.

  8. Highlights of the McDonald’s All-American dunk contest (VIDEO)

    Mar 31, 2015, 2:44 PM EDT

    Dwayne Bacon, Jalen Rose Dwayne Bacon, Jalen Rose

    It wasn’t as good as the last two years, but there were still some impressive dunks.

  9. Kentucky, Wisconsin join short list of Final Four rematches

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:55 PM EDT

    So we meet again... (AP Photo) AP

    Teams that won the first meeting have won three of the four Final Four/title game rematches, with Duke (1990-91) being the lone exception.

  10. LSU’s Jordan Mickey to enter the NBA Draft

    Mar 31, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Mickey is the second player from LSU to declare this month.

  11. Indiana’s 1976 undefeated team is rooting for Kentucky to go 40-0

    Mar 31, 2015, 12:09 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Bobby Knight would probably not approve of that.

  12. Cleveland State to lose Trey Lewis to transfer

    Mar 31, 2015, 10:01 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Lewis will have some well known suitors this offseason.

  13. Rick Barnes will be the next head coach at Tennessee

    Mar 31, 2015, 9:57 AM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Barnes spent the last 17 seasons at Texas.

  14. UConn, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Maryland, all No. 1 seeds, advance to women’s Final Four

    Mar 30, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT

    Brianna Turner AP

    UConn, Notre Dame, South Carolina and Maryland make up the 2015 women’s Final Four.

  15. Sources: Johnathan Williams III expected to transfer from Missouri

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:24 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    Williams was the leading scorer and rebounder for the Tigers this season.

  16. Nebraska forward giving up basketball for senior season

    Mar 30, 2015, 10:00 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Nebraska forward Walter Pitchford is giving up basketball for his senior season.