Louisville Cardinals (0-6) vs. No. 22 Maryland Terrapins (6-0)
ACC-Big 10 Challenge
Game Time: 7 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Announcers: Doug Sherman (play-by-play) and Robbie Hummel (analysis)
Favorite: Maryland by 12.5
Series: Louisville leads, 6-2
Last Meeting: Louisville won 63-55 on 11/27/21 in the Baha Mar Hoops Championship game in the Bahamas
Projected Starting Lineups:
Maryland’s Season to Date:
Louisville will be facing its third ranked opponent in four games when former Cardinal assistant Kevin Willard brings unbeaten and 22nd-ranked Maryland into the KFC Yum Center for an ACC-Big 10 Challenge contest Tuesday night.
The Cards and Terrapins seemed like kindred spirits a year ago. Both started the season with decent expectations, saw those expectations take hits early on, parted ways with head coaches in the middle of the season, and then rode out the remainder of a disappointing campaign with an interim head coach. That interim head coach for Maryland, Danny Manning, is now on the Louisville bench.
In their first seasons with new head coaches, the two are no longer kindred spirits.
Willard, who was always sitting out there on the periphery during U of L’s head coaching search last spring, has become the first Maryland coach ever to start 6-0 and the first to get the Terrapins ranked in his first season on the job. First-year Louisville head coach Kenny Payne, meanwhile, is still searching for his first victory nearly a month into the season.
If that first victory comes Tuesday night, the Cardinals will have accomplished something significant, because Maryland might be the best offensive team U of L has faced to date.
The Terrapins enter Tuesday night ranked 17th in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency. They’re averaging better than 90 points per game over their last three contests, and 82.7 ppg for the season.
As was the case with all of Willard’s teams at Seton Hall, Maryland relies on its physicality and its prowess around the rim. The Terrapins shoot just 30.8 percent from three, but 61.2 percent from inside the arc, the 11th-best two-point percentage in the country. They take care of the ball, they get to the free-throw line at a very high clip, and they dominate the glass on both ends.
Basically, if Louisville’s bigs don’t play much bigger and more physical than we’ve seen up to this point, it figures to be another very long evening for the Cardinals.
Maryland has four players who average double figures in scoring — Donta Scott, Jahmir Young, Hakim Hart and Julian Reese — and all four also average at least 4.8 rebounds per game. Three of those players saw major minutes in last season’s loss to Louisville, with Scott’s 14 points and six rebounds leading the way for the Terps. All three of those players have seen a dramatic rise in their production from last season under Willard.
Under Willard, Maryland has also put together one of the toughest defenses in the country, ranking 47th in scoring defense (61.3 ppg), 70th in field goal percentage defense (39.1%), and 30th in three-point percentage defense (26.3%). The Terps have also controlled the boards with a +8.0 rebounding margin, which is 38th nationally.
TLDR summary: They’re big, they’re physical, and they’re relentless. If Louisville doesn’t come in ready for a dogfight, they’re going to get bullied.
—Louisville is 4-4 all-time in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, with all four of its wins coming at home and all four of its losses coming on the road.
—This is the eighth time in nine years that Louisville’s ACC-Big 10 Challenge opponent has been ranked.
—This will be the final year of the ACC-Big 10 Challenge, with the ACC-SEC Challenge replacing it beginning next season.
—Maryland is the third game in the last four for the Cardinals against a ranked team. This is the first time the Cardinals have faced three ranked teams in their first seven games since 1997-98, when they met No. 3 North Carolina, No. 6 Purdue, and No. 15 Arkansas in December.
—U of L has won 45 of its last 103 games against AP ranked opponents. The Cardinals are 62-71 against Top 25 teams over the last 12-plus years.
—Maryland head coach Kevin Willard was an assistant coach at Louisville under Rick Pitino from 2001-07. The Cardinals were a combined 142-58 during Willard’s six years at Louisville, reaching the 2005 Final Four.
—Willard is the first Maryland coach to start a season 6-0 and the first to get the Terrapins ranked during his first season on the job.
—Dating back to his time at Iona and Seton Hall, Louisville is 7-1 all-time in games against Kevin Willard as a head coach.
—Current U of L associate head coach Danny Manning was on staff at Maryland last year and served as interim head coach after Mark Turgeon stepped down on Dec. 3. U of L junior walk-on Aidan McCool also spent his first two seasons with Maryland.
—Louisville is 2-0 all-time in home games against Maryland.
—Maryland is the only school to compete on both sides of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge - for the ACC prior to 2014 and for the Big Ten since. The Terps were 10-5 when playing for the ACC, but have been just 1-7 since joining the Big Ten making Maryland 11-12 all-time in the challenge. As a Big Ten member, Maryland is 0-3 on the road in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
—Louisville is off to an 0-6 start for the first time since a 1940-41 season where they started 0-11 and finished 2-14.
—Louisville is turning the ball over on 25.5 percent of its offensive possessions, the fifth-highest percentage in all of college basketball.
—Louisville has a 244-69 record against non-conference opponents over the last 21 seasons (includes post-season).
—Louisville is 217-13 over the last 20 seasons and 14-1 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more.
—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: Maryland 72, Louisville 62