(4) Louisville vs. (13) Davidson Preview
Senior NBA & College Basketball Editor
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(4) Louisville Cardinals
Much like last year’s Cardinals team that was upset in the first round by Morehead State, this year’s group is just as strong defensively as they are weak offensively. Nobody has really stepped up and taken the vacant leadership role left by the departure of Preston Knowles, but that didn’t keep them from winning the Big East tournament championship. Kyle Kuric is the closest thing they have to a go-to player. He’s scoring almost 13 a night, while grabbing four rebounds. Peyton Siva, Russ Smith and Chris Smith, brother of New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith, can score the basketball a bit themselves. On the defensive end is where the Cardinals win games though. Using head coach Rick Pitino’s patented pressure defense, the Cardinals hold the opposition to 62 points a night on 37 percent shooting from the field and 32 percent from deep. Their full court press is very effective in forcing turnovers. The Cardinals get nine steals a game. The Cardinals really struggled against the RPI Top 25 in the regular season, going just 1-5. A leader is going to have to emerge for them offensively in order to make a serious run.
(13) Davidson Wildcats
Four years ago the Wildcats, led by now Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, went on a magical run to the Elite Eight. They had a good look at a three that would have put them ahead with eight seconds left, but it wasn’t meant to be as Kansas held on to win and eventually went on to win the national championship. This year, they took the Southern regular season and conference tournaments championships just like they did in 2008. It took them double overtime to clinch the automatic bid over pesky Western Carolina. Sophomore forward De’Mon Brooks may not be Curry, but he’s a fine player in his own right. Brooks leads the team with 16 points and six rebounds a night. Every Wildcat starter averages double figures. They score 77 points as a team while giving up 67. They played Vanderbilt tough and actually beat Kansas back in December, so another Cinderella run is not completely out of the question for the Wildcats. They have upset potential.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Louisville. If you’re big on upsets, go the other way on this one because the Wildcats very well could upset the Cardinals. We’re going with Pitino and company only because its too hard to pick against them after what they did in the Big East tourney.
Who do you think is going win? Chime in by leaving a comment below!