The No. 8 Louisville Cardinals are favorites to win by 10.5 points at home on Monday night, but the game will be much closer than that. The Cardinals will have their work cut out for them in this matchup.
The Cincinnati Bearcats are a fierce, physical team that has all the tools needed to pull off the upset on the road.
For a chance at pulling off the upset, the Bearcats must be successful on the boards, take care of the basketball and take advantage of Louisville turnovers.
If all these things happen, Cincinnati will come out of the KFC Yum! Center victorious.
For Cincinnati to have a chance Monday night, the team needs to be aggressive on the boards. This shouldn’t be a problem for the Bearcats who are the sixth-best rebounding team in the country, pulling down 40.6 rebounds per game, including 14.6 offensive rebounds per game.
The Bearcats are great at rebounding, and any player on the floor is able to grab the ball. The team’s leading rebounder, Titus Rubles, is pulling down only 5.8 rebounds per game.
Rebounding is a key for any team to win. Teams that rebound well defensively limit the opponent's chances for a score. A solid effort on the boards from Louisville—which isn’t a bad rebounding team either—will go a long way in ending an upset bid.
Taking Care of The Basketball
The best thing Louisville has done this season has been disrupting the rhythm of opposing offenses with a swarming defense. The guards, Russ Smith and Peyton Siva, press opposing guards and are averaging 10.7 steals per game, second most in the country.
The team uses these steals to create for themselves and have reaped the benefits. The offense relies heavily on the defense to get the team in sync.
Cincinnati’s Sean Kilpatrick is a veteran guard, so it may be difficult for Louisville to create these turnovers.
If Cincinnati is able to limit its turnovers, Louisville will have trouble offensively. If the team cannot get flowing early, the Cardinals will have to grind out a win.
Taking Advantage of Louisville’s Turnovers
Since we’re on the topic of turnovers, if Cincinnati is able to take advantage of Louisville’s turnovers, Louisville will be in bad position.
The Cardinals don’t turn the ball over often, averaging fewer than 13 turnovers per game, so Cincinnati will need to take advantage of every opportunity they get.
This is the major key for Cincinnati pulling off the upset. If they are able to capitalize on the few Louisville mistakes they see, it will be the end for Louisville.
That being said, Rick Pitino and the Cardinals are sure to know that they cannot make mistakes against the Bearcats.