Louisville Cardinals (0-1) vs. Wright State Raiders (0-1)
Game Time: 1 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Television: ACC Network Extra
Announcers: Kent Taylor (play-by-play) and Larry O’Bannon (analyst)
Favorite: Louisville by 9
Series: Louisville leads, 3-0
Last Meeting: Louisville won 65-57 on Dec. 16, 1996 in Louisville
Projected Starting Lineups:
Wright State’s Season to Date:
Lost to Davidson (102-97, 2OT) on 11/9
About Wright State:
For the second time in as many games, Louisville will face a team that won its conference tournament a season ago.
Wright State trailed Northern Kentucky by 14 in the second half of the 2022 Horizon League title game, but thundered back with a late 14-0 run capped by a Trey Calvin dagger to lead the Raiders back to the Big Dance for the first time since 2018. WSU knocked off Bryant and the nation’s leading scorer (Peter Kiss) in the First Four (93-82) before falling to No. 1 seed Arizona (87-70) in the first round. They return nine key contributors from that squad, a rarity at any level of college basketball these days.
The biggest thing to know about Wright State is this: They’re going to put up points.
Head coach Scott Nagy, who is in his seventh season at WSU, has consistently fielded teams that have averaged better than 75 ppg. The Raiders have ranked in the nation’s top 50 in scoring average in all but one of his seasons at the helm.
Based on Wednesday night’s season-opening 102-97 double OT loss to Davidson, it’s safe to assume that 2022-23 will be more of the same.
“I don’t even worry about the offensive end, I know that side will take care of itself,” Nagy said before the season.
The Raiders are the preseason pick to finish second in the Horizon League thanks in large part to the play of Calvin. He’s a crafty driver who can also kill you in the midrange and several steps behind the three-point line. He dropped 37 in the loss to Davidson, but it took him 33 shots to get there. Louisville has made things too comfortable for opposing guards in each of its first three showings this season. If they let Calvin get comfortable, there’s no question he’ll make them pay.
I’m so happy Trey Calvin coming back pic.twitter.com/7HIere1umj— MadnessWSU (@madness_WSU) March 31, 2022
Calvin will be supported this season by Tim Finke, a smooth wing who can get hot from the outside. AJ Braun, a 6’9 sophomore who Nagy expects to be a star, is the team’s top interior threat. He can face up a bit, but is more of a traditional post player. He had 11 points and nine rebounds in the season-opener.
Amari Davis, who began his college career in the Horizon League at Green Bay before heading to Missouri and now back to the Horizon with WSU, looks to be the team’s biggest offseason acquisition. The 6’2 guard had 17 points, 13 rebounds and three assists in 42 minutes on Wednesday night.
Depth is something of an issue for Wright State. Four of the Raiders’ five starters played 42 minutes or more in Wednesday night’s 50-minute contest. If Louisville can do a better job of getting their opponents’ key players in foul trouble than they did against Bellarmine, it’ll go a long way towards not equaling the result they received against the Knights.
This will be the second straight game where Louisville has faced a team with elite offensive credentials but some glaring deficiencies on the defensive end.
Despite being an NCAA tournament team a year ago, Wright State finished the season 253rd in adjusted defensive efficiency. The Raiders struggled on the defensive glass and allowed opponents to shoot nearly 52 percent from inside the arc. Both of those issues are likely to linger for WSU in 2022-23.
This should be another opportunity for Louisville to utilize its advantage in size and athleticism on both the glass and on offense inside the arc. That didn’t quite work out against Bellarmine, but hopefully lessons were learned from those two hours.
—Louisville is looking to avoid its first 0-2 start since the 1999-2000 season. That year, the Cardinals opened with losses to VCU and Xavier before winning 10 of their next 11.
—Louisville is 22-2 all-time against current members of the Horizon League.
—Louisville had won 59 consecutive home games in November, a streak which had dated all the way back to 1972, before last season’s loss to Furman. The Cards are 48-2 in November games played inside the KFC Yum Center.
—Wright State ended the 2021-22 campaign connecting on free throws at a 76.8 percent clip, a mark that put the Raiders No. 19 nationally and also saw them reset the program record, which had been 76.4 percent free throw shooting set by the 2016-17 team.
—Louisville has won 89 of its last 96 non-conference games at the KFC Yum Center, a mark which spans over the last 11 seasons.
—Wright State has won at least 20 games in all seven of its seasons under Scott Nagy outside of winning 18 in the COVID-shortened season of 2020-21.
—Wright State has won either the Horizon’s regular season title or postseason tournament title in each of the last five seasons.
—Louisville has a 244-65 record against non-conference opponents over the last 21 seasons (includes post-season), including a 176-18 record in home regular season non-conference games.
—Inside the KFC Yum Center, Louisville has a 96-9 record in non-conference games.
—Louisville is 217-13 over the last 20 seasons and 14-1 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more.
—Louisville is 166-7 over the past 20 seasons when shooting 50 percent or better from the field and 13-0 over the last three.
—Louisville is 14-0 over the past 10 seasons when limiting opponents to no more than one three-point field goal.
—Since 2004, Louisville is 131-0 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 156 consecutive games when scoring at least 85 points in regulation.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 77, Wright State 67