NO. 11 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (7-1) vs. SOUTHERN ILLINOIS SALUKIS (5-3)
Game Time: 7:05 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Television: ACC Regional Sports Networks (Fox Sports South locally)
Announcers: Wes Durham (play-by-play) and Mike Gminski (analyst)
Officials: Bert Smith, Lee Cassell and Jerry Heater
Favorite: Louisville by 21.5
All-Time Series: Louisville leads 3-2
Last Meeting: Louisville won 73-72 on Feb. 26, 1976 in Carbondale, Ill.
Probable Starting Lineups:
About Southern Illinois:
Southern Illinois enters Wednesday night's game coming off back-to-back wins over Murray State and Louisville's next opponent, Texas Southern. The Salukis were picked to finish fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference before the start of the season. They will be the third MVC team that the Cardinals have faced this season, after opening the year with a win over Evansville, and defeating preseason league favorite Wichita State in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
SIU went 22-10 a season ago, but lost leading scorer Anthony Beane (19.3 ppg) from that squad. The Salukis have replaced Beane's production by committee, as all five Southern Illinois starters enter Wednesday's game averaging double figures in scoring.
Barry Hinson's team is currently ranked 165th in Division-I according to Ken Pomeroy's rankings. Though the Salukis like to play a halfcourt game (they are 277th in tempo), their primary issue has come on the defensive end of the court. They have surrendered 80 or more points in half of their eight games, and have only once held an opponent under 60 -- a 57-45 loss to Richard Pitino's Minnesota squad.
--Louisville has a 27-4 record during the month of December over the last four years, winning 15 of its last 18 in the month.
--Louisville has won 50 of its last 51 non-conference games at the KFC Yum Center.
--Attendance at the KFC Yum! Center will surpass the 2.5 million mark likely on Wednesday. A total of 2,496,279 fans have flocked to the arena to watch UofL play in the Cardinals' seventh seasons downtown, 3,721 short of the 2.5 million mark.
--Donovan Mitchell leads the ACC and is 21st in the nation in steals (2.5 per game).
--SIU's Barry Hinson was the coach at Missouri State when Louisville won 74-56 in the quarterfinals of the 2006 NIT played in Freedom Hall (3-22-06). Taquan Dean led the Cardinals with 26 points in that game as UofL advanced to the semifinals in New York.
--Hinson is one of the best ranters in all of sports (see above videos).
--Louisville leads the nation in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted defensive efficiency through Dec. 4. The Cardinals are 11th in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.362), 13th in scoring defense (59.4 ppg), 14th in blocked shots (6.3 per game), ninth in three-point field goal defense (.320), 24th in turnover margin (+4.4), 18th in rebound margin (+9.0) and seventh in rebounds per game (44.2).
--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.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 78, Southern Illinois 58