Elite 8 2012: Why Louisville Is a Lock for the Final Four

Amelia AhlgrenContributor IIIMarch 24, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 22:  Peyton Siva #3 of the Louisville Cardinals moves the ball while taking on the Michigan State Spartans during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball West Regional Semifinal game at US Airways Center on March 22, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Big East Champion Louisville Cardinals will be on a plane to the Big Easy tonight.

Despite being half-point underdogs, the Cardinals are hot coming into this game.

Louisville ended its regular season with a loss against No. 2 Syracuse, but made a run through the Big East Tourney to be crowned champs of their conference.

The Cardinals have gone on to win three more in the Dance, decimating Michigan State to put away their strongest win of the season.

Rick Pitino's D was key in that victory, and his lock-down unit will be key again tonight against a Gators team that ranks first in the nation for three-point field goals per game.

Florida sinks 9.7 per game from downtown, meaning threes account for almost 40 percent of Florida's average 76.3 points per game.

But the Gators' three-point game has been off in the NCAA tourney. They've had to create buckets in other ways, driving inside and racking up points in the paint.

Don't expect them to have much luck inside against Louisville center Gorgui Dieng.

He came up with seven blocks against Michigan State on Thursday.

Louisville held Michigan State to just 28.6 percent shooting from the field and limited the Spartans to a pathetic 44 points. The Cardinals also won the turnover battle with a plus-six differential.

Since the Gators won't be able to work inside, they will have to rely on their three-point ability to have a prayer against Louisville.

But don't expect that to pan out for Florida. Louisville's downtown defense is a force, ranking 38th in the nation at defending the three pointer.

Louisville will limit Florida's offense and then dig in on the other end of the court, relying on the ball movement of Peyton Siva and the energy of breakout freshman Chane Behanan to hammer in the final nail on this one.

The Cardinals will move on to their first Final Four appearance since 2005.