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Louisville-Miami preview: Cards hope to avoid first 7-game losing streak since 1941

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The Hurricanes will shoot for their first ever road win over Louisville.

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Miami-Florida Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville Cardinals (11-13, 5-9) vs. Miami Hurricanes (18-7, 10-4)

Game Time: 7:00 p.m.

Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.

Television: Regional Sports Networks (Bally Sports South in Louisville)

Announcers: Anish Shroff (play-by-play) and Jordan Cornette (analyst)

Favorite: Miami by 1.5

Officials: Roger Ayers, Jamie Luckie, Pat Driscoll

Series: Louisville leads, 13-5

Last Meeting: Miami won, 78-72, on Jan. 16, 2021 in Coral Gables

Series History:

Possible Starting Lineups:

Statistics:

Relevant Videos:

About Miami:

Sitting squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble, Jim Larranaga’s Miami Hurricanes enter Wednesday night desperately needing to avoid what would be a bad mid-February loss to a Louisville team that sits at No. 127 in the latest NET Rankings.

Miami is 10-4 in the ACC and enters the U of L game having won two straight, including a hugely important 76-72 road triumph over Wake Forest on Saturday. That win brought the Hurricanes’ record in true road games this season to an impressive 7-2.

Miami’s list of key contributors is one that most Cardinal fans should be familiar with at this point.

Topping that list is former Oklahoma transfer Kameron McGusty, who has been a jack of all trades for Larranaga in 2021-22. McGusty is The U’s leading scorer at 17.7 per contest, and he’s second on the team in both rebounding (5.3 rpg) and assists (2.2 apg). The 6’5 senior guard scores effectively from multiple spots on the floor, rebounds well from his position, and is a rock solid defender. Miami is only at its best when McGusty is.

Isaiah Wong is a name that should strike fear into the heart of any Louisville fan with a semi-decent memory. The sensationally gifted third year guard torched the Cards to the tune of 30 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in last year’s upset victory that may have ultimately cost U of L a spot in the NCAA tournament. His numbers this season (15.5 ppg) might not be quite as stellar as some were predicting heading into the year, but he’s still one of the most naturally gifted scorers in the ACC.

Where Wong has taken the biggest step back this season has been with his three-point shooting. He’s hitting the three at just a 29.6 percent clip this season, down from 34.7% a year ago and 37.3% in 2019-20. Wong hasn’t made a three in Miami’s last three contests and is just 2 for his last 19 from beyond the arc. Cardinal defenders must keep Wong out of the lane and force him to beat them from distance.

Charlie Moore, whose college career started at some point during the first Bush administration, is the third member of Miami’s three-headed backcourt monster. Moore, who made previous stops at Cal, Kansas and DePaul before arriving in Coral Gables, is shooting career-bests from the field (45.1%) and from three (38.5%), and has scored 12 or more points in 10 of the Hurricanes’ last 12 games.

Senior Sam Waardenburg is Miami’s most talented interior scorer (8.4 ppg), but the 6’10 New Zealand native is not a daunting physical presence, and he can be bullied both on the glass and when Louisville has the ball. Brawny guard Jordan Miller is actually the team’s leading rebounder (5.7 rpg) as well as its leader in steals (1.8 spg). Miller had seven steals in one game against Virginia a couple of weeks ago.

It isn’t hard to make the case that Miami is the ACC’s most complete offensive team. They shoot 54.0 percent from the field, 35.4 percent from three, and there are only five teams in the country who turn the ball over less.

Defensively, there are far more glaring issues. The Hurricanes are a feast or famine defense that gambles for steals on nearly every possession, leaving opposing shooters open for uncontested looks from wherever they want to get uncontested looks. They currently sit at 166th in adjusted defensive efficiency and 298th in three-point defense. For Louisville, this means the guards have to be secure with the ball, and perhaps more importantly, it once again means .... everybody say it with me .... you gotta make shots.

Notable:

—Miami has never won a road game against Louisville, losing all six of its contests against the Cards in the Derby City.

—Louisville is in the midst of its first six-game losing streak since 1991. If the Cardinals lose to Miami, it will be the program’s first seven-game losing streak since the 1940-41 season.

—Miami snapped an 18-game losing streak against ranked opponents when it upset Louisville last season.

—Miami went 5-0 this season against the ACC’s four North Carolina schools, including notching two top-25 road victories. It is the first time in program history the Hurricanes finished collectively undefeated against the quartet.

—Louisville has an all-time 20-13 record in games played on Feb. 16

—Louisville forward Matt Cross played last season for Miami before leaving the team midway through the year.

—Jarrod West needs two assists to reach 500 for his career.

—U of L will celebrate black excellence in the Louisville community during Wednesday night’s game.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Louisville is a 1.5-point underdog in this game. The Cardinals are 3-7 straight up as an underdog so far this season, and have lost five straight in that spot.

—Miami has forced 348 turnovers and committed just 241, good for a +4.28 margin to lead the ACC. Only thrice have the Hurricanes logged more turnovers than their foe and they own a 415-231 edge in points off turnovers, a +7.36 margin.

—Miami’s Jordan Miller, Kam McGusty and Charlie Moore all rank in the ACC’s top six in steals.

—Mike Pegues is 5-5 as Louisville’s interim head coach this season, losing all four games since U of L’s parting of ways with former head coach Chris Mack on Jan. 26.

—This is the first time a Louisville team has dropped at least 13 of its first 24 games since the Cardinals started 9-15 in Denny Crum’s final season of 2000-01.

—Louisville is 216-13 over the last 20 seasons and 13-1 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more. That lone defeat came in this year’s 90-83 overtime “loss” to North Carolina.

—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 34-4 over the last three seasons when scoring at least 71 points.

—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 130-0 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.

—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). The Cardinals have not been ranked this season.

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Miami 73, Louisville 71