The Friars have their conference home opener tonight against a young but tough Louisville team that seems be searching for their identity. Much like Notre Dame, PC has not played well against Louisville over the past several years (except a lights out shooting performance in the first half at Louisville last year in a game they lost big in the 2nd half). Let’s hope the young Friars can handle the pressure – from both the big home BIG EAST game and the Cards defense. Hopefully the DUNK will be a rockin’, and there should be some good Pitino jokes flying around.
WHAT TO: KNOW
Game Time: 7PM
Opponent: Louisville Cardinals (10-4, 1-0)
Location: The DUNK
Spread: Louisville -3
ESPN AccuScore Prediction: Providence 77.8, Louisville 77.7 (Providence won 50.6% of the 10,000 sims. Damn that’s even.
CBS Prediction: Louisville 78, Providence 76
Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 85, Providence 82 (60% confidence)
WHAT TO: LOOK FOR
- Both teams come into the game with very similar offensive numbers. Providence has been playing slightly faster games (75.3 adjusted tempo vs. Louisville’s 72.4), but their adjusted offensive efficiencies are very close (Louisville 111.5 / Providence 110.2). The Cards take almost as many three pointers as the Friars (with slightly less success) but have a great 52.8% on 2-point shots (ranked #35). It should be interesting to see if their advantage inside will lead to Notre Dame-like wide open threes.
- Louisville’s pressure defense could exploit one of PC’s biggest strengths. In both losses to the Cardinals last season (which included a drubbing in the BIG EAST tournament) the Friars were simply not able to handle the guard pressure. Sharaud Curry was hassled as soon as he would touch the ball, leading to numerous turnovers in both games. While Providence has been excellent in not turning over the ball this year (16.5% Turnover %, ranked #6 in the nation), they have not seen a defense as intense as Pitino’s squad. Vincent Council is going to be huge here, as Curry had to rely on Geoff McDermott for point help last season. I would aslo think Johnnie Lacy would see more time tonight if Providence has trouble with the press.
- Will anyone control the defensive glass? Both teams have put together really great offensive rebounding numbers so far. Providence is ranked #6 with a 42.6% offensive rebounding percentage, and Louisville is right behind with 41.6% (ranked #9). Sophomore Samardo Samuels is the only Card close to Greedy Peterson with 3.7 OR per game, but 4 other Louisville players (Terrence Jennings, Preston Knowles, Jared Swopshire, and Rakeem Buckles) get at least 1.5 per.
WHAT TO: READ
The Friars will return to action on Wednesday, January 6 versus Louisville at Providence. The Friars and the Cardinals have met 13 times in the all-times series, with Louisville leading, 9-4. PC has posted a 2-3 mark alltime at home against Louisville, a 0-5 record at Louisville and a 2-1 record on neutral courts against the Cardinals. The two teams fi rst met on March 20, 1971 with the Friars earning a 64-58 win at Madison Square Garden. Louisville has won the last eight contests between the two teams, including a 73-55 win in the last meeting on March 12, 2009 in the BIG EAST Tournament in New York. PC’s last win over Louisville was a 57-51 win on November 30, 1977 in Providence.
UofLSports.com: Pitino Previews Wednesday’s Game against Providence
Projo.com: Capsule Preview: Louisville at PC
The Cards have lost at UNLV, at home to Charlotte and Western Carolina and at Kentucky last Saturday…The Louisville-UK game was a sloppy, defensive struggle with both teams getting off to horrible offensive starts. Kentucky led 18-5 after 14 minutes…The Cards won Big East opener, 73-52…Samuels leads team in scoring and rebounding. His only non-double figure scoring game came with 9 points at Kentucky
Go Friars Blog: After Surviving Red Storm, Pitino is Next
You do not want to play Rick Pitino after a loss. Never. Louisville is coming off a loss to Kentucky at Rupp Arena over the weekend. Nothing burns Rick more than losing to Kentucky and losing to John Calipari. Pitino is notorious for being so brutal on his teams after big losses, that his players come out and play very strong the next outing just so they don’t have to deal with him. And this time of the year is even worse.
Go Friars Blog: Some Points to Keep in Mind Tonight
Even though Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa only scored 11 points each vs Kentucky this past Saturday – Rick Pitino is more upset with his post play. For the past two days Pitino has been stressing to the local Louisville media that he has challenged his big guys to step up. He wants better passing, increased rebounding and more assertive shot selection down low. Look for the Cardinals to go inside early because of this challenge and for Samardo Samuels to come out aggressive tonight.
Friar Basketball: THIS is the Big East, Vincent Council
Wednesday night Vincent Council finds out what all the Big East hype is about. While only shooting 1-10 in his first two Big East games, Council bounced back well from a subpar effort in South Bend with a solid floor game in Queens, flashing no look passes while dishing out 6 assists. The defensive intensity jumps about three notches (on a three notch scale) and if last season is any indicator the Friars are going to need him.
State of Friars Basketball: Friar Preview for Pitino’s Crew
Louisville has been the class of the Big East since they arrived in 2005, but this year has been noted by many as a down season for the Cardinals. However, even with the losses of two first round draft picks, the Cardinals are 10-4 (1-0), and had won 5 in a row before being defeated by 9 on the road at #3 Kentucky. The cast may be different, but they are still the same fiesty Cardinals that have given the Friars fits for the past 5 seasons. However if you are looking for the glimmer of hope, the Friars have played Louisville well at the Dunk, losing by 5 in 2006, and 8 in 2008, proving that the spread of 3 in favor of the Cardinals could be fairly accurate.
Courrier Journal: U of L, Big East both a mystery
UofL has won more Big East road games the past three seasons than any other team, including an 8-1 record last season. So far Pitino hasn’t seen that same resiliency away from home from this group.
Stamford Advocate: Loose Louisville prepping for Providence
Louisville has won 20 Big East road games over the last three years, best in the conference. Yet those Louisville teams had bona fide stars in Terrence Williams and Earl Clark. Louisville is starless this season and games that looked winnable two months ago don’t exactly look that way now.
Both teams are averaging over 80 ppg, so each can obviously score a good deal of points. However, the Cardinals are the better defensive club and that is why they should prevail on the Friars’ home floor tonight.
WHAT TO: WATCH
Highlights of Louisville – Kentucky from this past weekend
Highlights vs. Western Kentucky last month
Season Preview from the beginning of the year
WHERE TO: WATCH
The game will be on ESPNU if you get it.
For online viewing, the game is on ChannelSurfing.net here
If you are in the NYC area, I’m trying to organize a little Friar watching gathering. I’ll be with some buddies The Irish Rogue (on 44th St, near 9th avenue). Come join!
WHERE TO: FOLLOW
As always, I’ll be on Twitter @friarblog.