LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (9-1) vs. UMKC KANGAROOS (7-4)
Game Time: 9:06 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Television: Fox Sports South/ACC Regional Networks
Announcers: Tom Werme (play-by-play) and Dan Bonner (analyst)
Officials: Mike Eades, Trey Styons, Tim Ebersole
Favorite: Louisville by 23.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads 2-0
Last Meeting: Louisville won 90-62 on Dec. 4, 2013 at the Yum Center
Billy Minardi Classic History:
Probable Starting Lineups:
UMKC (7-4) is coming off back-to-back wins over Ben Howland's Mississippi State Bulldogs and Division II Rockhurst. The Kangaroos are led by third-year coach Kareem Richardson, a former assistant to Pitino at Louisville who inherited the program after it was coming off an 8-24 season.
Junior Martez Harrison, the reigning Western Athletic Conference player of the year, ranks third in the WAC this season with 16.0 points per game. UMKC is just 1-3 when he fails to reach that average. Harrison also leads the team in assists at 5.3 per game.
The Kangaroos have lost their last nine games against ranked teams by an average of 37.6 points. They were picked to finish third in the WAC before the start of the season.
--Louisville owns a 16-1 record all-time in the Billy Minardi Classic, and has won the event in 12 of the 13 years it has existed.
--Puerto Rican mascot "Bompy" will be in the house for all four of the Minardi Classic games on Dec. 22 and 23. He sucks and is the absolute worst.
--UMKC Coach Kareem Richardson is one of nine former Rick Pitino assistant coaches that are active Division I head coaches. The list also includes UNC Wilmington head coach Kevin Keatts, another Minardi Classic participant. Also, Utah Valley's Mark Pope is one of five former Pitino players who are active collegiate head coaches. Pitino has a collective 45-11 record against former assistants and players.
--Louisville junior forward Mangok Mathiang is out 6-8 weeks with a broken bone in his foot.
--UofL leads in the nation in scoring margin (+30.4) and is second in rebounding margin (+16.5) and scoring defense (55.6), and fourth in field goal percentage defense (.352).
--Louisville is 24-3 in the month of December over the last four years.
--The Kangaroos have attempted fewer threes than their opponent in seven of their last eight games, and are 5-0 this year when attempting 16 or fewer threes in a game.
--Damion Lee has been the Cardinals' top scorer in eight of 10 games this season. He is among the ACC leaders in scoring (18.3, 4th), steals (1.7, 3rd) and free throw percentage (.872, 4th).
--UMKC's Martez Harrison is the WAC's active career leader in points (1,268), threes made (97), free throws made (399), steals (124), and assists (301).
--Louisville has opened with an 11-1 record in each of the last three seasons.
--Louisville's 132 victories over the last five years are the second-most wins in the nation in that stretch. Louisville and Wichita State are the only schools in the nation to win 30 games in three of the last four seasons, including a school-record 35 victories amassed by Louisville's 2012-13 NCAA Championship team.
--The Cardinals have enjoyed success in recent years with its last game before Christmas. Louisville has won 13 of its last 14 games played immediately before Christmas under UofL Coach Rick Pitino. All but four of those have been UofL home games. The Cardinals beat Cal State Northridge 80-55 on Dec. 23, 2014 in Louisville's last game before Christmas last season.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 80, UMKC 59