I’m sure you’ve read countless reasons why Kentucky is going to blow out Louisville in Part 2 of the Bluegrass rivalry, but what if things go wrong?
It’s not going to be pretty by any means, but here is how the Cardinals pull off what could very well be the upset of the tournament.
Crank up the pressure
One of the best qualities this Louisville team holds is its ability to create turnovers off the full-court press. The team has generated 51 turnovers in four tournament games thanks in large part to the pests up front in Peyton Siva and Chris Smith. Both have long arms and are ultra-quick with their hands.
Kentucky freshman Marquis Teague is coming off a four-turnover game against Baylor when the Bears' speedy backcourt really made him uncomfortable by bodying him up and getting physical.
If Louisville can keep up the pressure on Teague, it will be collecting plenty of scores off turnovers, a staple of the Cardinals offense.
Get Kyle Kuric going early
The team’s leading scorer is averaging only nine points during the tournament while shooting an abysmal 35 percent from the floor.
He is the guy that spreads the floor and allows Siva to work his magic with the dribble-drive.
UK was masterful at staying at home on Kuric in Round 1, and this is the biggest adjustment the Cardinals will have to make. Louisville is 11-1 when Kuric connects on three or more three-pointers.
Trust Peyton Siva
The junior point guard is the most important player on the team and Pitino has to trust him. Allowing him to dictate the pace on offense and in transition is extremely important. It’s not a secret this isn’t a great offensive team, but the Cardinals thrive in transition, and that begins and ends with Siva.
Let him push the tempo and use the high pick-and-roll to create looks for his teammates. Remember, getting to the rim before Anthony Davis gets back on defense is paramount to any offensive success for the Cardinals.
Nobody is more important to this team than Siva.
The best chance Louisville has to win this game comes when Kentucky shoots itself in the foot.
Who Wins on Saturday?
The team is filled with freshmen that have never played on a game of this magnitude. Neither has Louisville, but it is a much more experienced as a team. The majority of the core has fought battles together for two years.
With the lights shining and the pressure rising, a bunch of ultra-talented 19-year-olds are more than capable of melting down.
It’s up to the tenacious defense and mental toughness of the Cardinals to rattle the Wildcats and secure a birth in the championship game in New Orleans.
They are the hottest team remaining, and now is not the time to step off the gas pedal.