(4) Louisville vs. (7) Florida Preview
Senior NBA Writer & College Basketball Editor
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(4) Louisville Cardinals
The Cardinals’ hot streak continued in the Sweet 16 as they made surprisingly easy work of the Michigan State Spartans, defeating them 57-44. The Cardinals were tenacious defensively, holding the Spartans to 28 percent shooting from the field and 23 percent shooting from deep. They also forced 15 Spartan turnovers. The catalyst behind their defense was sophomore center Gorgui Dieng, who never stepped off the court. He blocked seven shots, tying his season-high, while also hauling in nine rebounds and getting three steals. On a night where Peyton Siva and Kyle Kuric were quiet, Chane Behanan rose to the occasion with 15 points and nine rebounds. It will be all about perimeter defense for the Cardinals in the Elite Eight. The Gators have explosive players at each guard position who drive them. Keeping them in check is a necessity if they are going to move onto the Elite Eight. Dieng needs to avoid foul trouble because his presence as the last line of defense is game changing.
(7) Florida Gators
For the second time in the tournament the Gators’ three-point shot was off and it could not have mattered less either time. The Gators made up for their offensive shortcomings with their defense, which was lacking nothing at all. They held Marquette’s stars Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom to 10-30 shooting from the field as they eliminated them 68-58. The big dance has really turned into a coming out party for freshman Brad Beal. With the poise of someone far older, Beal had himself a heck of a ballgame with 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. He’s really played like a star these past three games. The Cardinals are going to give him a lot of attention defensively, making sure he works for everything. He’ll have to handle that the same way he did Kentucky’s pressure in the SEC Tournament, not the first two match ups. Since the Cardinals have an imposing defensive anchor inside like Dieng, it’s important for the Gators to be on from distance and attack him when they try to take it away.
HOOPSWORLD’s pick: Louisville. In a classic match up between the master and his former apprentice, we expect Pitino to show his former player that he’s still got it in a favorable matchup for his team.
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