Louisville has been very dominant the first three games of the season; the question is will they be able to carry their success into the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.
The Cardinals will take on the Northern Iowa Panthers in their first game of the tournament Thanksgiving night.
This will be the first time in school history that Louisville will play Northern Iowa.
Louisville comes into the game 3-0 after beating the Miami (OH) Redhawks Sunday, 80-39. The Cards used their ferocious defense to frustrate the RedHawks and forced them to make 19 turnovers.
Junior Russ Smith continues to be Louisville's best offensive threat averaging 20.5 points a game so far this season.
They run a lot of motion on their offense. They have a lot of shooters, and they are a veteran ball club. It will be a very tight game. All the games in this tournament will go down to the wire. We just have to do the right things and keep to our staple, which is our defense.
Northern Iowa also comes into the game 3-0 after beating North Dakota Saturday, 72-47.
The Panthers have four seniors and do not make many mistakes. They have the ability to shoot the ball really well and are physical enough underneath to play against any Division I school in the country.
The winner of this game will play the winner of the Missouri vs. Stanford game Friday night at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Location: Imperial Arena at Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
When: Thursday, Nov. 22 at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Watch: NBC Sports Network
Listen: WHAS Radio (840 AM) in Louisville, KY.
SIRIUS channel 93
C Gorgui Dieng, 6'11”, 245 pounds
PF Chane Behanan, 6'6”, 250 pounds
F Wayne Blackshear, 6'5”, 230 pounds
G Russ Smith, 6'0”, 165 pounds
PG Peyton Siva, 6'0”, 185 pounds
PF Jake Koch, 6'9", 255 pounds
F Seth Tuttle, 6'8", 221 pounds
G Matt Bohannon, 6'4", 210 pounds
G Marc Sonnen, 6'3", 190 pounds
PG Deon Mitchell, 6'1", 200 pounds
Matchup to Watch: Peyton Siva vs. Deon Mitchell
Both Mitchell and Siva control the tempo for their teams.
Mitchell is a very talented sophomore who leads the Panthers in scoring with 17.7 points a game. He also averages 4.7 assists.
Siva does a little bit of everything for the Cardinals. He averages 7.7 points, nine assists and 2.7 steals a game in Louisville's first three games this year.
Peyton Siva will win this matchup because of his experience. He has played against some of the best point guards in the nation, Mitchell just doesn't have the basketball IQ to keep up with Siva.
- Senior point guard Peyton Siva needs 153 points to reach 1,000 for his career at Louisville.
- Louisville has forced 67 turnovers in their first three games this season.
- Northern Iowa has a 43 percent three-point percentage so far this year.
- Louisville averaged 19.3 assists a game.
- Northern Iowa averages 86.3 points a game so far this season.
- The Panthers returned four starters from last years team.
Keys to a Louisville Victory
- Keep the pressure on the Panthers. The Cardinals have a suffocating defense, if they keep the pressure on and force turnovers this could be a very easy game for them.
- Guard the three-point line. The Panthers can flat-out shoot the basketball. Because the Cards play a lot of full-court pressure the Panthers could have a lot of open looks if Louisville is careful.
- Play smart. Louisville still has some maturing to do, especially when it comes to making smart passes and shots. The Cardinals will need to stay focused and patient the entire game.
This is a big test for the Cardinals and I expect them to step up to the challenge.
The Panthers shooting will keep it close in the first half, but Louisville pressure will start to take affect by the second half.
Peyton Siva will be the key to Louisville's offense and Gorgui Dieng will be the key to Louisville's defense. Both players will need to stay out of foul trouble.
I predict Wayne Blackshear to lead the Cardinals in scoring, with Russ Smith closely behind.
Stephen Van Treese is just the type of player that the Panthers may have some issues with because of his hustle and similar playing style to them. He could have a very good game off the bench for the Cards.
This will be the game Luke Hancock needs to get out of his shooting slump. There wont be 22,000 fans holding their breathes every time he shoots the ball. Expect him to connect on three shots from downtown.
Louisville will win 76-63.
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