Louisville Cardinals (2-2) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (3-1)
Empire Classic Third Place Game
Game Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Madison Square Garden: New York, N.Y.
Announcers: Karl Ravech (play-by-play), Jay Williams (analyst) and Myron Medcalf (sideline)
Favorite: Indiana by 8
Series: Indiana leads, 11-9
Last Meeting: Indiana won 68-67 on Dec. 8, 2018 in Bloomington
Projected Starting Lineups:
- G Skyy Clark (6-3, 205, So.)
- G Tre White (6-7, 205, So.)
- G/F Mike James (6-5, 200, R-So.)
- F J.J. Traynor (6-8, 190, Sr.)
- F Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (6-10, 240, Jr.)
- G Xavier Johnson (6-3, 200, R-Sr.)
- G Trey Galloway (6-5, 205, Sr.)
- F Mackenzie Mgbako (6-8, 217, Fr.)
- F Malik Reneau (6-9, 233, So.)
- C Kel’el Ware (7-0, 242, So.)
Indiana’s Season to Date:
Mike Woodson’s third season in Bloomington has gotten off to something of an inauspicious start, as the Hoosiers have produced three single-digit wins against overmatched opponents and a 20-point loss to reigning national champ UConn in yesterday’s first Empire Classic semifinal.
What seemed like a surefire loss a week ago suddenly looks like a game that’s very winnable for Louisville if the Cards come out and play with the same level of focus and effort they showed in Sunday’s last-second loss to Texas.
With Xavier Johnson still not looking like himself because of an ankle injury, Indiana has been led by big man transfer Kel’el Ware from Oregon. The 7-footer is currently averaging 16.5 ppg and 9.5 rpg. He will easily be the most talented true big that Louisville has faced so far this season.
Another frontcourt player, 6’9 sophomore forward Malik Reneau, has been IU’s other primary threat on offense. Reneau has scored at lest 14 points in every game so far this season and was the only Hoosier who looked like he belonged against UConn. He went 7-of-9 from the field against the Huskies and netted a team-high 18 points.
Indiana averages 36.0 points per game in the paint and shoots 59.6 percent (84-of-141) from inside the arc. The Hoosiers also hold opponents to 23.5 points per night in the key.
Trey Galloway, a junior guard who is the consummate “glue guy” for this IU team. He’s a capable outside shooter who won’t overwhelm anyone with natural ability, but who always seems to make the right pass at the right time.
Indiana’s primary issues so far this season have been on the glass and behind the arc.
The Hoosiers are shooting just 26.4 percent from three as a team, good for 306th-best in the country. They also rank in the 300s in rebound rate, presenting a good opportunity for a Louisville team that has been among the best in the country on the offensive glass through the season’s first two weeks.
As encouraging as yesterday was, today will be the real test: If Louisville made a serious turn for the best on Sunday, then this should be a game they have a real shot at winning. If Indiana never really feels tested by the Cardinals, then it seems like we’re headed for a season where U of L pulls off maybe an upset or two they shouldn’t, but ultimately finishes safely below .500.
—In its history, Louisville has 31 regular season tournament championships, but the Cards have lost four consecutive early season tournament games dating back to last year’s Maui Invitational.
—Louisville has an all-time 32-28 record in Madison Square Garden. The Cardinals had a 10-game winning streak in the building snapped with a loss to Texas Tech in 2019 in a game where U of L was ranked No. 1 in the country. They have now lost two straight inside MSG.
—U of L won the 1956 NIT Championship in the Garden, the 2009, 2012 and 2013 Big East Championships, and the 1971 Holiday Festival.
—Since 2012, Louisville is 10-2 in games played inside Madison Square Garden.
—Indiana head coach Mike Woodson and Louisville head coach Kenny Payne overlapped by a year (2020-21) on the bench of the New York Knicks.
—Louisville is 220-15 over the last 20 seasons and 17-3 over the last three when scoring 80 points or more. The Cards lost at the buzzer, 81-80, in Sunday’s semifinal.
—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 129-0 when leading by more than 10 points at halftime.
—Louisville has won 163 consecutive games when holding an opponent under 50 points.
Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Indiana 76, Louisville 71