THERE'S TOO MUCH GOING ON.
LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (9-1) AT WESTERN KENTUCKY HILLTOPPERS (5-6)
Location: E.A. Diddle Arena: Bowling Green, Ky.
Television: Fox College Sports/WKYI
Announcers: Randy Lee/Hal "The Hal" Schmitt
Officials: Roger Ayers, Brent Hampton, Doug Shows
Favorite: Louisville by 8
All-Time Series: Western leads 39-34
Last Meeting: Louisville won 102-79 on 12/19/09
--Louisville has won 10 of its last 12 games played prior to Christmas, including eight of the last nine under U of L Coach Rick Pitino. All but two of those games were at home in Freedom Hall. U of L beat Louisiana Lafayette 84-69 in Freedom Hall on Dec. 23 in U of L’s last game before Christmas a year ago.
--U of L ranks among the top 25 nationally in seven statistical categories in NCAA Statistics through games of Dec. 19. Individually, Gorgui Dieng is 21st in blocked shots (2.7 per game) and Terrence Jennings is 23rd in blocks (2.6).
--Louisville has won 18 of the last 21 meetings with Western Kentucky. The Cards had taken 14 straight from the Hilltoppers before they fell 78-77 in Freedom Hall on Feb. 16, 1993 when Dwayne Morton missed a layup at the buzzer.
--Three of the last seven games in the series have been decided by five or less points.
--"Louisville, at home, in Diddle Arena. Let’s get it on, are you ready to rumble?" --Sergio Kerusch
--"You definitely circle it before the season, and fans do, and you hear about it all the time. To get a team like this in this arena, I’m just really happy for our fans and players. All the work we do year-round, all the blood, sweat and tears lead up to playing in this kind of environment." --Ken McDonald
--"The last time we had a crowd that’ll be even close to this was probably against Middle Tennessee State in the Sun Belt Conference championship game in 2003. I was fortunate enough to be here for that and it was incredible. It’ll pale in comparison if we come out with the right energy and get the crowd going." --McDonald
I've watched Western Kentucky played twice and their problem is chemistry, not talent. There's a whole lot of 1-on-1, a whole lot of not running back on defense, and not a whole lot of listening to coach Ken McDonald. Still, this is their biggest (not most important) home game of the season, which means the odds of these guys putting egos aside for the sake of a huge victory are better tonight than any other thus far this year. It's a very dangerous situation for a team playing its first road game.
Western's strong inside presence is led by Oklahoma transfer Juan Pattillo, who is averaging a double-double at 13.8 points and 10 rebounds a contest. Former E'town standout Stephon Pettigrew is second on the team in scoring at 13 ppg, but had lit Louisville up for 23 and 17 the past two seasons. Kerusch's up-and-down career has been fairly well documented. He dropped 31 in the season-opener at Saint Joseph's and then failed to hit double-digits in three of WKU's next four games.
Long story short, here: there's a lot of talent on this WKU roster, and that talent being motivated and working towards a single goal is a scary thought.
CC Prediction: Western Kentucky 76, Louisville 71