Quick turnaround for both Louisville and Connecticut for ESPN’s Big Monday edition of college basketball. UConn just went into an impossibly difficult road environment at Notre Dame on Saturday and pulled off the victory, Louisville just romped over the South Florida Bulls at home. First year Husky coach Kevin Ollie has a very good team that has been improving as of late. Louisville is one of the top team in the nation and has things clicking very well lately. I anticipate a hotly contested match-up.
Louisville leads the All-Time Series 7-6, and the peak of the series was easily the 2010-11 season. The Huskies won the National Championship that season, but the Cards took down UConn in 2 of 3 really exciting contests. The first was a double overtime victory for Louisville in Connecticut, the second was a much wider margin for the Cards at home. But when it mattered most in the Big East Tournament Final the Kemba Walker led Huskies took home the hardware in Madison Square Garden 69-66.
No one can quite tell a story in basketball like VillenHD. But if you don’t want to watch the video below (and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t) the Card dominated the 2nd half 51-35 en route to a coasting 80-59 victory. The Cards had 22 assists and 15 more shots than the Huskies. Everyone was in on the action as one of the more under-achieving UCONN teams in history was routed in the Yum! Center.
|Strength of Schedule (RPI)||18th||12th|
|Points Per Game||77.1 (22nd)||72.5 (65th)|
|Avg Scoring Margin||+20.8 (5th)||+8.7 (56th)|
|Field Goal %||45.5% (69th)||46.6% (40th)|
|Rebound Rate||54.6% (27th)||47.7% (262nd)|
|Blocks Per Game||3.4 (172nd)||4.7 (58th)|
|Steals Per Game||11.5 (2nd)||8.2 (62nd)|
|Assists Per Game||14.9 (53rd)||13.6 (109th)|
|Turnovers Per Game||12.3 (68th)||11.1 (16th)|
|Team Fouls Per Game||17.8 (168th)||16.1 (68th)|
|2-point FG%||51.4% (51st)||52.7% (29th)|
|3-point FG%||32.7% (199th)||32.5% (206th)|
|Free Throw %||71.3% (100th)||73.5% (52nd)|
|Opponent Shooting %||39.1% (41st)||40.1% (71st)|
|Opponent 2-point FG%||44.4% (81st)||43.6% (60th)|
|Opponent 3-point FG%||29.5% (29th)||31.5% (92nd)|
|Opponent Block Per Game||3.1 (96th)||3.3 (139th)|
|Opponent Steals Per Game||5.7 (53rd)||5.7 (53rd)|
|Peyton Siva||Shabazz Napier|
|6-0, 185, Sr.||6-1, 171, Jr.|
|Field Goal %||45.20%||44.80%|
Peyton Siva usually plays well against UConn. The reason for that is because it’s a nightmare match-up for Shabazz Napier. However, Napier has been playing his best basketball of his career under the direction of Kevin Ollie and I’m sure Napier would like to reverse the trend. Siva has been able to get in the lane at will in the last 4 meetings against UConn especially. That is a key in the game.
|Russ Smith||Ryan Boatright|
|6-1, 165, Jr.||6-0, 160, Soph.|
|Field Goal %||41.50%||48.00%|
Napier and Boatright both put up a ton of shots for Connecticut. So the Siva/Smith/Napier/Boatright match-up is one to watch for sure. Particularly on the defensive end for the Cards. Boatright is generously listed at 6-0, but his speed and quickness is a good test against Russ who seldom has players who can match him in that area. Russ Smith is in a bit of a slump lately hitting just 4 of 24 shots in his last two games. This is a great match-up in the back court, but both Boatright and Napier are playing a lot more minutes per game, and that could play a factor down the stretch.
|Wayne Blackshear||Omar Calhoun|
|6-5, 230, Soph||6-5, 195, Fr.|
|Field Goal %||43.10%||41.60%|
Blackshear has a size advantage here and considering the minutes per game played I’d have to give Wayne the slight edge here. But Calhoun is a quality player.
|Chane Behanan||DeAndre Daniels|
|6-6, 250, Soph||6-8, 195, Soph|
|Field Goal %||49.30%||48.10%|
Daniels really doesn’t play like a Power Forward at all. But I’ve got to match-up starters. Daniels plays like another wing and that might cause some problems on the defensive end for Chane. But someone has to check Behanan and whatever advantage UConn has with their wings they give up inside with a choice of putting their big on Dieng or Chane. The answer probably comes in the Husky rotation, but I’ll get to the bench later.
|Gorgui Dieng||Tyler Olander|
|6-11, 245, Jr.||6-9, 225, Jr.|
|Field Goal %||55.20%||46.60%|
If there is an advantage on the floor for Louisville it’s with Gorgui Dieng over whatever big UConn wants to put on him. Olander should start, but he doesn’t play like a traditional big. I really like what UConn is doing, it’s more of a Villanova spread the floor approach but they will give up quite a bit on the interior and there’s probably not a team in the nation that can cover floor like Louisville. Gorgs is going to have to move around defensively and Louisville probably going to be susceptible to the back door if they play man. Might see a little zone Monday.
|Montrezl Harrell||Phillip Nolan|
|6-8, 235, Fr.||6-9, 210, Fr|
|Field Goal %||61.30%||37.50%|
|Luke Hancock||Niels Giffey|
|6-6, 200, Jr.||6-7, 205, Jr.|
|Field Goal %||33.00%||42.60%|
|Kevin Ware||RJ Evans|
|6-2, 175, Soph||6-3, 210, Sr.|
|Field Goal %||45.80%||57.10%|
|Stephan Van Treese||Enosch Wolf|
|6-9, 245, Jr.||7-1, 240, Jr.|
|Field Goal %||69.60%||63.6|
|6-10, 250, Fr.|
|Field Goal %||61.50%|
The Bench in this game is going to play a role. UConn can change their style with their bench & it matches up well player for player. Louisville’s bench is going to be more productive by default because of the number of minutes that will be played. Connecticut, like Louisville has a lot of versatility with their line-up so I think it will be a very interesting night of basketball. Have to give the edge to Rick Pitino against first-year coach Kevin Ollie. But this will be a major battle.