Louisville enters the Final Four once again.
The Louisville Cardinals get an opponent of similar style in Wichita State during the 2013 Final Four.
Allowing only 60.9 points per game and averaging 38.4 boards, the Shockers bring the tough defense and physical play to match Louisville.
In addition, Wichita State gives up a mere 39.3 shooting percentage, which is directly behind coach Rick Pitino's squad, who allows 39.2. Obviously, the Cardinals will face their troubles to score, but defense and turnover capitalization will take this contest.
And that's where Louisville possesses a distinct advantage.
Maintain Full-Court Press Intensity
The Shockers average only 69.4 points per game and have only hit above 80 points twice since January began. Clearly Wichita State is a defensively oriented team that brings the talent to limit open looks and dominate the interior.
However, Louisville's press must be on its A-game the entire 40 minutes. The Shockers don't present a fast pace, so the Cardinals will have opportunities to completely shut down Wichita State's offense.
It has never seen a defense as effective as Louisville's, because few schools hold Duke under 65 points.
Factor in the Shockers featuring only three players who average 10-plus points, and the Cardinals won't have any issues locking down—the Blue Devils courted five who averaged 11-plus and were still isolated.
What happens to the winner of this game?
Win the Turnover Battle
This is one area to keep a close eye on when Wichita State and Louisville face off.
Offensively, each turns the ball over a little more than 12 times per game, so don't anticipate this aspect impacting the outcome as much as the defense. The Cardinals generate 18.6 turnovers on average, and that ranks No. 2 in the country.
Wichita State is more than five behind at 13.1.
Possessing an offense that has assist master Peyton Siva and scorer Russ Smith, the Cardinals will fly with additional possessions. At the same time, more turnovers mean fewer possessions for Wichita State to control the tempo and survive with its defense.
Push the Pace
Regardless of their number of opportunities, the Cardinals have to up the pace versus the Shockers.
Louisville has proven its ability to reach 80-plus points when needed, whereas Wichita State is not as consistent offensively. The Cardinals may have just two players who average above 10 points, but there are also two slightly above nine, and Louisville is averaging 80.75 points for the tournament.
It's also not so much about scoring quickly when facing a half-court situation.
Working the shot clock and scoring efficiently will get Wichita State on its heels early. Combine that with Pitino's full-court press and knack for creating turnovers, and the Cardinals will pull in front early and won't look back.
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