Louisville Cardinals (1-1) vs. Navy Midshipmen (1-1)
Game Time: 8:02 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Television: ACC Network
Announcers: Mike Monaco (play-by-play) and Dan Bonner (analyst)
Favorite: Louisville by 13.5
Officials: A.J. Desai, Tony Henderson, Kipp Kissinger
Series: Louisville leads, 1-0
Only Meeting: Louisville won 68-52 on Dec. 18, 1972 at Freedom Hall
Probable Starting Lineups:
Navy’s Season to Date:
For the second straight game, Louisville will be facing a mid/low-major opponent that returns a ton of experienced players, and a ton of experienced players who have enjoyed a high level of success.
Navy returns four starters and virtually every other key contributor from a 20-21 team that went 15-3 overall and 12-1 in Patriot League play. The Midshipmen were the No. 1 seed for the Patriot League tournament, but were stunned by ninth-seeded Loyola (MD) in the quarterfinals. Because of the Covid-inspired NCAA rule granting every athlete an extra year of eligibility, Navy has EIGHTEEN returning players from last season and a total of TWENTY-TWO players on its roster for this season. Twelve players saw the floor for the Middies against Virginia Tech last Friday.
Reigning Patriot League Coach of the Year Ed DeChillis is in his 11th season as Navy’s head coach, and is in the midst of his best run since arriving in Annapolis back in 2011. Before Navy, DeChillis spent eight seasons as the the head coach of Penn State, where he took the Nittany Lions to the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2011 and to an NIT championship in 2009. Before that, DeChillis was the head coach at East Tennessee State from 1996-2003, taking that program to the NCAA tournament in his final season at the helm.
DeChillis’ coaching style has remained consistent at all three of his stops: He wants to play great halfcourt defense, he wants to dominate the defensive glass, and he wants to take care of the ball on offense. Unlike Louisville’s first two opponents this season, Navy is going to try and turn its game against the Cards into a halfcourt grinder. They were able to successfully do that in their win Virginia (not difficult to do), but fell behind big early against the more up-tempo Virginia Tech, forcing the Middies to abandon their preferred style of play on their way to a 20-point loss. Navy enters Monday night ranked 302nd out of 358 Division-I teams in tempo. Only 41 teams are using more of the clock on their offensive possessions.
Put simply: This would be a great night for the much-discussed new Ross McMains offense to start producing some tangible results.
This Navy team is going to come at Louisville in waves. Seven Midshipmen are averaging better than 19.5 minutes per game, and none are averaging more than 29 minutes. Senior guard John Carter Jr. is the team’s most talented offensive weapon. He was terrific in the upset of Virginia, knocking down 5-of-8 threes on his way to a game-high 19 points. He was less than stellar in the loss to Virginia Tech, going just 2-for-12 from the field against the larger Hokie backcourt, and scoring only four points.
Greg Summers is the other Navy guard with significant experience. Like Carter Jr., he is a brawny 6’4, but unlike his backcourt mate, Summers does the entirety of his damage at the rim.
Summers is a non-shooter who loves to mix it up in the paint. He’s a terrific rebounder for his size, and a very physical defender as well. He can be a bit turnover prone, so help defenders shouldn’t be weary of taking some swipes at the ball when Summers puts his head down and attempts to attack the rack.
Sean Yoder is a junior guard who is stepping into a starting role after serving as a key reserve in each of the last two seasons. So far, he’s responded well to the larger stage. Yoder hit all three of his three-point attempts and scored 16 points to go along with five rebounds in the win over Virginia. Foul trouble plagued him in the loss to Virginia Tech, as he scored six points in 23 minutes. Outside of Carter Jr., Yoder is the guy Louisville’s perimeter defenders can’t afford to lose.
Forwards Tyler Nelson, Daniel Deaver and Jaylin Walker are all very similar players. All three can shoot the three well enough to have their shots respected, and all three are solid defensively and on the glass. Deaver is probably the most naturally skilled on offense, but he’s also the most mistake prone. Senior forward Richard Njoku is the team’s captain and most physical inside presence. He’s an all-conference defender and solid finisher around the rim, but his 6’7, 235-pound frame is more effective in the paint against Patriot League opponents than it should be against a team like Louisville.
Nothing Navy does on offense is flashy, but like Furman, they’ll force Louisville to be focused on that end for all 40 minutes. Unlike Furman, the Midshipmen are not afraid of the two-point jump shot. They shoot the three fairly well and love getting to the rim, but they’ll attempt more 15-footers (contested or not) than either Southern or the Paladins did.
Defensively, the Midshipmen will likely throw a couple of different looks at the Cards, including some press. They love forcing turnovers (they have a much bigger and longer backcourt than you typically see from a Patriot-level program) and will over-extend and gamble from time-to-time. The U of L guards have to make them pay more in those situations than they did last Friday or Tuesday.
To sum up: This is a rock solid team that doesn’t possess the same level of natural offensive ability as Furman, but does have a roster loaded with the same type of experience and collective success. Like the Paladins, the Midshipmen will not be intimidated by the environment they’re stepping into Monday night. The fact that they did something last week (winning in Charlottesville) which Louisville hasn’t been able to do once since joining the ACC seven years ago shouldn’t be lost on anyone.
—Louisville is coming off of a loss to Furman that snapped its 59-game winning streak in November home games, a streak which had dated back to Nov. 30, 1972. The defeat also marked U of L’s first November loss inside the KFC Yum Center, an arena where they had previously been 46-0 in such games.
—Louisville has won 86 of its last 91 non-conference games at the KFC Yum Center, a mark which spans over the last 11 seasons.
—Navy has posted an 89-91 record against teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference. This includes a 1-5 record against teams from the conference under head coach Ed DeChellis.
—Louisville hasn’t faced a team from the Patriot League since Dec. 4, 2004, when it defeated Lafayette, 98-57. The Cardinals are 6-0 all-time against current members of the Patriot League.
—Monday’s game will be the seventh in Navy history in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the first in nine seasons. The Midshipmen are 0-7 in those games.
—Fans attending Monday’s game are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items and hygiene products to take part in a food drive hosted by Kroger. All items will be donated to the Commonwealth Credit Union Cardinal Cupboard.
—According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Louisville is a 13.5-point favorite in this game. The Cardinals are 0-2 against the spread so far this season.
—In the only previous meeting between these two programs, the Cardinals prevailed 68-52 on Dec. 18, 1972 in Freedom Hall as Allen Murphy scored 19 points to lead the home team.
—Navy and Louisville’s most recent opponent, Furman, will square off against one another this Friday night.
—The win over Virginia was the first for Navy against a nationally-ranked team since March 16, 1986, when David Robinson and the No. 17 Mids defeated No. 4 / 5 Syracuse, 97-85, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In between, Navy had lost 17-straight games to nationally-ranked teams.
—Louisville’s loss to Furman dropped the Cards to 1-1 and ended their 511-game streak of having a win-loss record above .500 (not counting 0-0 records). The streak began on Dec. 8, 2006, when Louisville beat Ohio to improve to 3-2.
—This will be the third game of a six-game suspension for Louisville head coach Chris Mack. Assistant coach Mike Pegues is guiding the Cardinals in Mack’s absence. The win/loss total from these six games will go on his coaching record, not Mack’s.
—Inside the KFC Yum Center, Louisville has a 95-7 mark against non-conference opponents.
—Louisville is 28-2 over the last three seasons when scoring at least 71 points, but one of those losses came in last Friday’s 80-72 overtime defeat at the hands of Furman.
—Since 2004, Louisville is 126-0 when leading by more than 10 points at halftime.
—Louisville has won 162 consecutive games when holding an opponent under 50 points.
—Louisville has won 155 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.
—Louisville is one of only five schools to be ranked in the AP Top 25 poll at least once during each of the last 18 seasons (others: Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, & North Carolina).
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 73, Navy 60