After the near-debacle against Western Kentucky, Louisville (16) has slipped below Georgetown (15) in the KenPom rankings. Even so, homecourt advantage gives Louisville a 63% chance of winning on Wednesday night as they open Big East play.
As overall offensive efficiency (73) of the Cards continues to slide in the wrong direction, the Cards are facing a balanced Georgetown team that executes on both sides of the court. The Hoyas bring an offense ranked (26) and a defensive ranked (16).
In terms of KenPom’s four factors, Georgetown is taking care of business on the defensive end. They limit their opponents from taking quality shots with a 42.7% effective field goal defense (19), force turnovers at a rate of 23.8 (55), limit offensive rebounds from their opponents to 29.0% (57), and do a solid job at limiting free throw attempts with a FTA/FGA ratio of 32.9 (108). Aside from holding opponents to a frightening 26.4% three-point percentage (11), Georgetown hasn’t produced gaudy defensive statistics throughout the year, but they’re certainly the most balanced defensive team that Louisville has seen this year.
The Cards and the Hoyas have played a few common opponents this year. Georgetown took down Memphis in overtime at the Maui Invitational, 91-88. They also played Memphis at home, and won 70-59. The interesting thing about their two wins over Memphis is the number of possessions in each game. Granted, there’s an overtime period to account for, but there were 80 possessions in the Maui game, but only 65 in the game at Georgetown. If this tells me anything, it’s that Georgetown decided not to run with Memphis’s streetball showdown offense. JTIII's squad effectively dictated pace and executed in the half court.
Louisville’s game against Memphis saw 86 possessions with no overtime period. It will be worth duly noting the pace that Pitino attempts to impose against Georgetown. Both teams have proven that they win a grinder, but Georgetown seems to almost prefer a slower pace, with an adjusted tempo of 65.3 (260) possessions per contest. The Cards average a 67.6 (159) tempo, but have won games as low as 56 possessions (Ohio) and as high as 86 possessions (Memphis). I didn't do the math, but I'd wager that Louisville's average tempo deviates from the mean more often than Georgetown.
Aside from a close loss to a surprisingly effective Kansas (8) team, Georgetown hasn’t been tested by a top rated defense to this point. Regardless, the Hoyas have managed to post an excellent effective field goal percentage of 53.6% (34) and a low turnover rate of 17.3% (25). As it turns out, Louisville is very effective in the corresponding defensive categories, posting a 42.0% effective field goal percentage defense (10) and forcing turnovers at a rate of 26.2% (14). All signs point to an epic struggle.
There were a lot of interesting comments about player stats in the previous KenPomerific post, so I will explore individual players in depth for the Kentucky game post. As always, all stats and rankings are courtesy of KenPom.com.