NO. 10 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (5-0) vs. NO. 20 BAYLOR BEARS (5-0)
Battle 4 Atlantis Championship Game
Game Time: 3:30 p.m.
Location: Imperial Arena: Paradise Island, Bahamas
Announcers: Dave O'Brien (play-by-play) and Dan Dakich (analyst)
Favorite: Louisville by 3
All-Time Series: First Meeting
Probable Starting Lineups:
Baylor enters Friday afternoon's championship game as the only team in college basketball with three victories over teams ranked in Ken Pomeroy's top 40. In addition to the team's win over Michigan State on Thursday, the Bears own one of the most impressive seasons of the young season so far -- a 66-49 throttling of preseason top five Oregon back on Nov. 15.
Baylor lost its leading scorer, rebounder and assist man from last year's 22-win team that was upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament by Yale, but Scott Drew still believes he has the pieces to build a better squad in 2016-17. Much of that depends on the play of Miami transfer Manu Lecomte (14.8 ppg/6.8 apg), who needs to continue to shine as bright as he has through the season's first two weeks, and versatile big man Jonathan Motley, who has been one of the most talented but enigmatic forwards in the Big 12 since he arrived in Waco three years ago. Motley appears to have finally put the pieces together and has been dominant through the first three weeks of the season, averaging team-highs in points (18.5 ppg) and rebounds (7.3 rpg).
Seven-foot JuCo transfer Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. has also been a huge blessing for Baylor. The big man enters the title game shooting 60 percent from the field, nearly averaging a double-double, and blocking a whopping 3.8 shots per game. Junior guard Al Freeman is the team's other double-digit scorer and perhaps its biggest outside threat, tossing in 13.2 ppg.
--Louisville is 5-0 for a sixth straight season.
--Louisville's 29.7 percent shooting from the field against Old Dominion was its lowest ever in a victory. The previous low was 30.2 percent in a 53-44 win at Memphis on Feb. 26, 2005.
--This is Louisville's first all-time meeting with Baylor. After today, the only Power 5 conference opponents the Cards still haven't played will be Washington State, Texas Tech and Iowa State.
--Under Rick Pitino, Louisville is 47-2 when facing an opponent for the first time in school history.
--U of L has a 34-6 record in neutral site games over the last five years (.850), with three losses occurring in NCAA regionals.
--Louisville has a 40-3 record during the month of November over the last eight years, winning its last 16 consecutive games in that month.
--Louisville is one of just four schools which have won 20 or more games in each of the last 14 seasons (also Kansas, Duke and Gonzaga).
--Louisville has opened with an 11-1 record each of the last four seasons.
--Louisville will be seeking its the 29th regular season tournament championship. The Cards won the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational title last season.
--In Louisville's only other Battle 4 Atlantis appearance, the Cards fell 76-71 to Duke in the 2012 championship game.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 69, Baylor 66