Battle 4 Atlantis 2012: Louisville Will Expose Duke's Lack of Depth in Finals

Josh SchochAnalyst IIINovember 23, 2012

PHOENIX, AZ - MARCH 24:  Head coach Rick Pitino, Peyton Siva #3 and Russ Smith #2 of the Louisville Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Florida Gators 72-68 during the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball West Regional Final at US Airways Center on March 24, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The 2012 Battle 4 Atlantis features the most talented field of any college basketball preseason tournament, including two top five teams in the Duke Blue Devils and Louisville Cardinals.

When Duke and Louisville meet in the finals of the tournament, we will see the Cardinals expose Duke's lack of depth and win a close game.

Duke advanced to the finals by blowing out a talented Minnesota team 89-71 in a game that was never very close. Following that, the Blue Devils took down Shaka Smart and VCU by nine, winning 67-58.

Now, the Blue Devils await the Cardinals in the finals.

Louisville took down Northern Iowa in the team's first game and faces No. 13 Missouri tonight.

While it promises to be a close game, Missouri relies too heavily on Phil Pressey. If Pressey struggles, the team is in serious trouble.

And there are few point guards in the nation who could give Pressey more trouble than Peyton Siva of Louisville.

If Pressey fails to score and dish out at least 10 assists on Friday, the Tigers are sure to fall to the No. 2 Cardinals.

Louisville's size allows the team to matchup with a Missouri team that ranks third in the nation in rebounds per game.

The difference in this game will be guard play.

Missouri has a great point guard in Pressey, but with Michael Dixon Jr. and Dominique Bell being suspended indefinitely and Dixon sitting out in the team's first game of the tournament, it is unlikely that Dixon will play. 

That leaves Missouri without a good shooting guard.

Louisville, on the other hand, has an exceptional scoring guard in Russ Smith, who is scoring 20.0 points per game in just 26.5 minutes per game this season. He is shooting 46.7 percent from three and is absolutely killing it this season.

I see Louisville topping Mizzou in a close game, thanks to Smith.

This sets up a top five matchup between No. 2 Louisville and No. 5 Duke. When these two teams meet, we will finally see Duke punished for its reliance on starters.

Louisville has Duke beat in two key areas: rebounding and depth.

The Cardinals have a formidable front court consisting of Chane Behanan, Gorgui Dieng, Wayne Blackshear and Montrezl Harrell. These guys dominate the boards and have Louisville ranked No. 17 in the country with 43.8 rebounds per game.

Duke, on the other hand, relies almost entirely on senior Mason Plumlee to rebound for the team, grabbing 10.8 of the team's 32.8 rebounds per game. The team ranks No. 262 in the country in rebounding and will struggle to compete with Louisville on the glass.

The other area is depth.

Duke's starters are playing 152.9 of 200 minutes per game, while the sixth man Tyler Thornton, plays 24.0 to bring that number to 176.9.

Only three other players have played at all this season for the Blue Devils.

Amile Jefferson, Alex Murphy and Josh Hairston are playing a combined 24.1 minutes per game, which is fewer than any of the starters play individually.

Duke is not deep enough or big enough to compete with a Louisville team that has had 13 players take the court this season, with eight players playing at least 16 minutes per game.

Louisville is going to wear Duke down throughout the game.  By being physical on the glass, the team will expose Duke's biggest weaknesses.

Unless Duke shoots lights out from three in this game, Louisville is going to embarrass the Blue Devils.

Prediction: Louisville 79, Duke 62