Louisville Basketball: Cardinals Guard Play Will Dominate North Carolina A&T

Jakub RudnikContributor IIIMarch 21, 2013

Peyton Siva and Russ Smith will bother the Aggies with their pressure all game.
Peyton Siva and Russ Smith will bother the Aggies with their pressure all game.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

A No. 1 seed has never lost its first game of the NCAA Tournament, and Louisville's backcourt will ensure that the trend continues against North Carolina A&T.

Louisville's advantage at the guard positions comes down to two players: Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.

The two form arguably the best backcourt duo in college basketball.

Siva is the senior leader of the team. He controls the pace of the game and sets up his teammates incredibly well, ranking third in the Big East in assists. He averaged 11 points and eight assists during the Big East Tournament, and won the tournament MVP.

Smith is one of the best scorers in the nation, averaging 18.1 points per game. He has the ability to take his man off the dribble yet also punish opponents from behind the arc. Smith scored 58 points in the Big East Tournament and shot 50 percent from behind the arc.

The two also play an enormous role in Louisville's press defense. Smith was third in the Big East with 2.2 steals per game this season, and Silva was fourth with 2.0. Silva had 14 steals in the three Big East Tournament games. 

For North Carolina A&T, Lamont Middleton, Jean Louisme and Jeremy Underwood will spend their time matched up against the Louisville backcourt. The three upperclassmen are experienced, but they haven't played against the likes of Siva and Smith.

Middleton leads Aggies in scoring with 12.4 points per game, and Louisme is third with 9.3 points. The team does not have one player that sets up his teammates; no player averages more than 2.2 assists per game. 

Louisville averages more steals than any team in the country except Virginia Commonwealth. North Carolina A&T averages more turnovers per game than all but 43 of the nation's 347 teams. The Aggies will struggle all game with the Louisville press, and it has the potential to make the game very ugly.

Siva and Smith have the talent to dominate North Carolina A&T on both sides of the ball, and expect them to do it.