NO. 4 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (29-5) vs. NO. 13 MANHATTAN JASPERS (25-7)
Game Time: (Approximately) 9:50 p.m.
Location: Amway Center: Orlando, Fla.
Announcers: Brian Anderson (play-by-play), Dan Bonner (analyst) and Kristine Leahy (reporter)
Favorite: Louisville by 16.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads 6-2
Last Meeting: Louisville won 79-51 on Nov. 11, 2012 at the Yum Center
The champions of the MAAC, Steve Masiello's Jaspers enter the NCAA Tournament having won 11 of their last 12 games. They're led by led by a pair of quick guards in 6-4 George Beamon (19.4 points, 6.5 rebounds per game) and 6-2 Michael Alvarado (12.3 ppg, 4.1 apg).
Masiello is a Pitino protege, so it should come as little surprise that Manhattan's style is eerily similar to Louisville's. The Jaspers like to get up-and-down, press and score in transition. They force opponents to turn the ball over on 21.8 percent of possessions, the 18th best average in the country.The problem is Manhattan turns the ball over at nearly an identical rate, 19.7 percent, good for 266th in the country. Basically, you should expect Russ Smith to become Louisville's all-time steals leader (he's currently tied with Peyton Siva) by the end of the night.
Manhattan gets to the line a lot, but they only shoot 66.2 percent as a team there. They also attempt a decent amount of shots from beyond the arc, but Shane Richards (42.7 percent) is the only elite shooter on their roster.
--Louisville is making its 40th NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014. The Cardinals have reached the NCAA Tournament 31 of the last 38 years (eight straight, 11 of the last 12, 13 of the last 16 years, 19 of last 23). The Cards have reached the Sweet 16 on 19 occasions and have advanced to the Elite Eight four of the last six seasons. Louisville is sixth in tournament victories (70) and is fifth in NCAA Tournament appearances (40). UofL has a 70-40 overall record in the big dance, and has reached the Final Four 10 times.
--Manhattan's 25 wins this season are the most for the program since the 1994-95 season, when the Jaspers advanced to the NCAA Tournament's round of 32 as an at-large #13 seed under former head coach Fran Fraschilla.
--This is the ninth time the Cardinals have entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed. (also: 1981, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2003, 2005, 2011, 2012). U of L advanced to the NCAA Final Four from a No. 4 seed in both 2005 and 2012. Louisville has a 14-8 record as a No. 4 seed since the NCAA began seeding teams in 1979.
--A 13 seed has defeated a 4 seed in each of the past six NCAA Tournaments.
--Manhattan is 3-7 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
--A victory will give Louisville its eighth 30-win season in program history.
--Louisville is currently the No. 1 overall team in Ken Pomeroy's rankings. Eight of the last nine national champions were ranked No. 1 in Pomeroy's final rankings.
--Louisville is 47-8 in the NCAA Tournament when they are the better seed.
--Manhattan is 11-0 this season when recording 10 steals or more.
--Russ Smith enters tonight's game tied with Peyton Siva as Louisville's all-time leader in career steals.
--Montrezl Harrell, who already holds the U of L record for dunks in a season, needs to just nine more to hit 100 for this year.
--Russ Smith needs 29 points to become Louisville's all-time leading scorer in NCAA Tournament play.
--Louisville ranks among the nation's top 20 in nine statistical categories through games of March 16. Individually Russ Smith is 73rd in assists (4.7) and 33rd in steals (2.1), Chris Jones is 17th in steals (2.3) and Montrezl Harrell is sixth in field goal percentage (.614) and 78th in rebounding (8.2).
--Louisville has won 35 straight games against unranked opponents, the longest streak in program history.
--Louisville is favored in tonight's game for a program-record 46th straight time. The Cards have not been an underdog since playing at Syracuse on March 2, 2013. All told, U of L has been the favorite in 70 of their last 71 games.
--The Cardinals are 12-0 in their adidas sleeved jerseys.
--Since March, 2012, Louisville owns an overall record of 22-1 in postseason play.
--Louisville's 29-5 record is the same one its 2012-13 national championship team had through 34 games.
--Louisville is the defending Division-I national champion.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 78, Manhattan 66