NO. 2 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (24-8) vs. NO. 15 JACKSONVILLE STATE GAMECOCKS (20-14)
NCAA Tournament First Round
Game Time: Approximately 2:45 p.m. (30 minutes after the conclusion of Michigan vs. Oklahoma State)
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse: Indianapolis, Ind.
Announcers: Jim Nantz (play-by-play), Bill Raftery (analyst) and Tracy Wolfson (reporter)
Favorite: Louisville by 18
All-Time Series: Louisville leads 1-0
Only Meeting: Louisville won 88-39 on Nov. 17, 2014 at the KFC Yum Center
Jacksonville State Probable Starters:
About Jacksonville State:
After a surprise run to the OVC tournament title as a four seed, Jacksonville State is making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament. Under first-year head coach Ray Harper (formerly of Western Kentucky), the Gamecocks are the sixth-most improved team in the nation, bettering their record by 10.5 games from just a year ago (8-23).
Jacksonville State likes to slow the game down and thrives on defense and rebounding. The Gamecocks allow just 67.6 points per game, but only score 69.7 ppg. They also struggle with turnovers, ranking 308 out of 351 Division-I teams in turnover rate.
—Louisville is making its 42nd NCAA Tournament appearance in 2017. The Cardinals have reached the NCAA Tournament 33 of the last 41 years (10 of the last 11, 13 of the last 15, 15 of the last 19 years, 21 of last 26).
—The Cards have reached the Sweet 16 on 21 occasions and have advanced to the Elite Eight four of the last seven seasons. Louisville is sixth in tournament victories (75) and is fifth in NCAA Tournament appearances (42). UofL has a 75-42 overall NCAA Tournament record, reaching the Final Four 10 times.
—Louisville has won 26 of its last 34 games in the NCAA Tournament (since 2005), advancing to the final eight teams five times in the last 10 years (2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015).
—The Cards have also won 31 of their last 41 games during the month of March over the last six years.
—Jacksonville State coach Ray Harper is 0-5 against Louisville. He was formerly the head coach at Western Kentucky.
—Louisville is one of four Division I schools in the nation which has won 20 or more games in each of the past 15 seasons. Reaching 20 victories during the 2016-17 season and extending their streaks are Kansas (28), Duke (21), Gonzaga (19) and Louisville (15).
—Though this is Jacksonville State’s first appearance in the NCAA tournament, head coach Ray Harper is 1-2 in the big dance.
—Four of the Gamecocks' five starters enter the contest averaging more than 10 points per game. Juniors Malcolm Drumwright (12.6) and Norbertas Giga (10.4) are the bookends while seniors Greg Tucker (11.3) and Erik Durham (11.1) provide the filler. They became the first quartet to finish the season averaging double figures since 2013.
—UofL Coach Rick Pitino has a 53-18 record in NCAA Tournament play (.746), ranking him second among active coaches in winning percentage and 10th all time. Only three coaches have coached more Final Four teams than Pitino’s seven, a feat matched by one other.
—Rick Pitino is the only coach in Division-I history to take three different programs to the Final Four and win a national title at two different schools.
—Louisville is 52-10 all-time in the tournament when facing a team with a worse seed.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 74, Jacksonville State 58