Louisville Cardinals (2-1) vs. Detroit Mercy Titans (0-3)
Game Time: 2:02 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Television: ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN
Announcers: Kent Taylor (play-by-play) and Jody Demling (analyst)
Favorite: Louisville by 16.5
Officials: Ted Valentine, Bill Covington, Jr., Mark Schnur
Series: Louisville leads, 6-1
Last Meeting: Louisville won 68-52 on Dec. 18, 1972 at Freedom Hall
Probable Starting Lineups:
Detroit Mercy’s Season to Date:
About Detroit Mercy:
Led by former Indiana head coach Mike Davis, Detroit Mercy is hoping to build off the momentum from a surprisingly successful 2020-21 campaign and establish itself as a tier one program in the Horizon League.
The Titans, as has been the case with all mid/low-major teams coached by Davis, are in the midst of an extremely challenging non-conference schedule made up nearly entirely of road games. Detroit Mercy has already lost at Wyoming, Toledo and Mississippi State, and won’t play its first game inside of its home arena until Dec. 11.
The first name that has to be mentioned when talking about this team is the coach’s son, Antoine Davis. The younger Davis was the nation’s third-leading scorer back in 2018-19, the same season he shattered Stephen Curry’s record for most three-pointers made in a season by a freshman. He remains one of the best pure scorers in the country, although at the moment, Davis is posting career-lows in points per game (17.7 ppg), assists per game (2.7 apg), and three-point percentage (29.2% this season, 35.5% for his career). Even so, this is clearly the guy Louisville defenders must be cognizant of at all times Saturday afternoon.
Detroit guard Antoine Davis exploded for 4️⃣6️⃣ points tonight to help take down Robert Morris in the Horizon League first round.— Heat Check CBB (@HeatCheckCBB) February 26, 2021
Davis ties the most points in a single game this season, and it comes in the very first conference tourney game of the year.pic.twitter.com/lx3q7fUK7k
Part of the reason Davis’ scoring numbers are down is that he seems to have more help this season than three years prior. He’s also playing off the ball more (a move that was made midseason a year ago), allowing him to find shots within the flow of the offense.
Davis’ primary help this season comes in the form of 6’7 junior forward Madut Akec, a South Florida transfer and the younger brother of former Cardinal Deng Adel. Akec, whose game will certainly remind U of L fans of his brother’s, has scored in double figures in all three games this season, and enters Saturday posting averages of 13.0 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. Akec is a very good athlete who isn’t afraid to mix it up in the middle with larger defenders or step out and shoot the three.
The Titans’ second-leading scorer is senior point guard Kevin McAdoo (13.3 ppg), another transferred who played at Eastern Michigan and Bradley before landing at Detroit. McAdoo is the engine who makes the Titans go, and the guy most responsible for making sure Davis gets the ball in capable positions to score. He shoots it well enough himself, but needs more time and space than his better-known backcourt counterpart.
Louisville fans should be familiar with another Detroit guard, D.J. Harvey, who spent the first two seasons of his college career playing big minutes for Mike Brey at Notre Dame. He’s playing minutes for Mike Davis now, but has made a minimal impact for the Titans on the offensive end.
Prince Oduru (9.0 points, 4.3 rebounds), another South Florida transfer, is the other player to watch for this thin Titans team.
Expect Detroit Mercy to show more zone than Louisville has seen from any of its prior three opponents. The Cards must move the ball quickly and effectively, and not hesitate when they have open looks from the outside. It’s not a particularly effective Titans zone (Detroit is currently 335th in effective defensive efficiency), so this looks should be available early and often.
Long story short: This Detroit team can absolutely put up some points if Louisville isn’t locked in defensively, but this should also be the best opportunity yet for this new Ross McMains offense to flex its muscles.
—Louisville has won 60 of its last 61 home games in the month of November spanning the last 29 years, including a 47-1 record in the KFC Yum Center.
—Louisville has won 87 of its last 92 non-conference games at the KFC Yum Center, a mark which spans over the last 11 seasons.
—Detroit head coach Mike Davis is 1-3 in games against Louisville.
—Louisville has a 19-2 all-time record against current members of the Horizon League.
—Detroit forward Madut Akec is the younger brother of former Louisville player Deng Adel (2015-18).
—According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Louisville is a 16.5-point favorite in this game. The Cardinals are 1-2 against the spread so far this season.
—This will be the fourth 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 96-7 mark against non-conference opponents.
—Louisville is 29-2 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 127-0 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 79, Detroit Mercy 62