LOUISVILLE (24-8, 14-4) vs. BOISE STATE (25-8, 12-4)
Time: (Approximately) 9:40 p.m.
Site: Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex: Birmingham, AL
Favorite: Louisville by 13
All-Time Series: Louisville leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Louisville won 67-58 on 3/18/94
Probable Boise State Starting Lineup
G Anthony Thomas..8.6 ppg
G Matt Bauscher.....9.4 ppg
F Tyler Tiedeman...14.0 ppg
F Matt Nelson.........15.6 ppg
F Reggie Larry.......19.6 ppg
Keys to the Game for Louisville
Since we already broke down the Broncos earlier in the week, I thought we'd switch it up and take a brief look at what it's going to take for Louisville to win this game as sort of a review.
1. Effort and Focus on Defense
A team that relies heavily on deadly outside shooting is going to hit a handful of threes against just about anybody, but they're typically only going to win with threes against teams that don't defend them well. Boise State is a much better shooting team than Louisville, but just like the Cards, they aren't nearly as deadly when the shots they're taking are being contested.
Teams don't lose to Boise because the Broncos had "a hot shooting night," they lose to Boise because they loaf after getting their shot blocked, because they take an extra second to argue a no-call, and because they're not nearly as dedicated to keeping the ball out of the basket as they are to putting it in. Great shooting teams will make some tough shots against good defensive teams, but they'll make many more easy shots against bad defensive teams.
Boise State doesn't beat Louisville from the outside if Louisville doesn't let them beat them from the outside.
2. Getting at Least 14 Points Off of Turnovers
If you're facing a good shooting team that's going to hit a handful of well-defended threes, then you have to make those points up somewhere, and this is an area where the Cards can do that. Boise State does not have reliable ballhandlers, and they aren't used to being pressed. If the Broncos are going to seize momentum by hitting a string of tough outside shots, then U of L has to steal it right back (pun) with its pressure.
If Thomas and Bauscher somehow play inspired, composed basketball for 40 minutes, then we'll be in big, big trouble.
3. Hitting Open Shots From the Outside
This sounds like the worst key ever (and it probably is), but if Boise State is going to give Louisville open shots from the outside - and I think, to a point, that they will - the Cards are going to have to make some. The guards have to break out of their collective funk anyway if U of L wants to accomplish anything notable in the tournament, so getting some confidence by knocking down a few relatively uncontested threes would do wonders for this team's prospects beyond Friday. Confidence plays such a large role when it comes to shooting, and I think in that regard we might end up looking back at this game as being a massive blessing in disguise.
4. Maximizing Second Chance Opportunities
The Cards obviously own a considerable size advantage, and Boise isn't a particularly prodigious defensive rebounding team, so this is another area where U of L should be able to steal a handful of points. Louisville needs David Padgett to get a body on Matt Nelson, T-Will to do the same to Reggie Larry, and then Earl Clark to keep being the beast in the paint that he has been for the last three weeks.
5. Getting Solid Point Production From David Padgett
Padgett really struggled against the imposing front lines of Pitt and Georgetown in Louisville's last two games, and even though I fully expect him to be constantly doubled this evening, we really need him to take advantage of his superior size and talent and have a productive scoring night. Boise's big guys don't do a good job of recovering after they hedge on screens, so this is another area where David - who works the pick and slip as well as any big man in the country - should be able to find some success.
--Louisville is shooting 37.4% from behind the three-point line in wins, as opposed to 25.8% in losses. Also, the Cards have held opponents to 28.6% from three in wins, while allowing them to shoot 39.7% from behind the arc in losses.
--Louisville's all-time tournament record is 54-35, while Boise State's is 0-4.
--Rick Pitino owns a 32-11 record in the NCAA Tournament, ranking him 11th all-time in winning percentage. This will be BSU head coach Greg Graham's first game in the tournament.
--Louisville has a 6-3 record all-time as a three seed. The Cards advanced to the Final Four as a three in 1982.
--Rick Pitino's 1987 Final Four run with Providence began in Birmingham.
--Louisville is currently holding opponents to an average of 61.3 ppg. Boise State has been held under 70 points just once all season: an 88-69 loss to Utah State on March 6.
--"We're not going to change what we do. They are going to press, and we are going to try to beat it down the floor. It should be a pretty fast-paced game." --Greg Graham
--"They remind me of BYU. The unfortunate thing is that we lost to BYU. This is not a pro series. If somebody is shooting the ball extremely well, anything can happen." --Rick Pitino
--"The whole town is behind us after this win. All we hear on billboards and in sports bars is 'three overtimes.' Everybody's behind us now." --Matt Bauscher
--"We've watched a lot of film. They try to jump you. The key is to spread out and get the ball over halfcourt. It's not an easy press, but with our smarts and skill we should be all right." --Anthony Thomas
--"I think we feel real good about ourselves right now. Looking at our last two losses, one was against Georgetown, one of the best defensive teams in the nation, and Pittsburgh, one of the hottest teams in the country right now. It says a lot about our team." --Andre McGee
--"I am anxious, I hope that it's a good game and I can do something good. I hope I can do something else people can remember, something good." --Edgar Sosa
CC Prediction: Louisville 83, Boise State 73
It's tight for the most of the first half, Louisville busts it wide open by dominating the first ten minutes of the second half, and then the Broncos hit some shots late to keep it respectable.
This is what you wait all year for people. We've been forced to sit around for 12 months with this hanging over our heads, but no longer. It's finally game day in the NCAA Tournament again, and I could not be more excited.