** This UofL vs. UK game will feature 2 teams that have very similar components.
- Quentin Snider vs. Tyler Ullis: When you examine both players’ statistics and KenPom rankings, neither jump off the page as being dominant. The truth of the matter is both of these players are vital to the teams’ success. They are the oil that makes the machine run smoothly.
- Unproven post games: Chinanu Onuaku/Anas Mahmoud vs. Skal Labissiere/Marcus Lee. Both teams have the pieces to have a solid post game. Labissiere oozes with talent while Onuaku has begun to develop a well-rounded game. But both players also have their problems. Onuaku has trouble staying on the court due to fouls and conditioning. Labissiere tends to disappear at times and is not physically ready to battle more physically developed players.
- Two dominant scorers: Damion Lee vs. Jamal Murray will be the matchup of the day. Both players shoot right around 39% from behind the arc. Both players average just over 17 points per game. They will get their buckets, you only hope you can contain them.
- Both teams need a win: UK has two early losses that could be a slippery slope to a disappointing season, or a learning opportunity for a young team. For it to be a learning opportunity, you would think this is a must win game. Some of the young players (Briscoe, Matthews, Labissiere) have to take a step forward and this is their game to do so. UofL has had a soft schedule so far, there is no sugar-coating it. The close loss to Michigan State was very encouraging. It showed this team could play with anyone in the country. Can Louisville take it one step farther and beat a talented team? Pitino has had trouble recently beating Calipari but he has an opportunity to do so here. He has to take advantage of this opportunity.
** How do you beat both teams? There isn’t an easy answer either way. Here are some of the major keys:
To beat UofL:
- Stop Damion Lee: Plain and simple, he is Louisville’s best (not only) scoring weapon.
- Get Onuaku into foul trouble: Without Onuaku in the lineup, Louisville’s post game does take a step back
- Get defensive rebounds: Louisville will have a rebounding advantage. If UofL gets offensive rebounds frequently, it will be a long game.
To beat UK:
- Keep Ullis out of the lane: If Ullis gets in the lane he makes every other player better.
- Stop Jamal Murray: See comment above about Damion Lee. He is UK’s best scoring option.
- Make them shoot 3’s: UK is 305th in the country shooting 3’s at 29.7%
** Here are some key stats that are relevant to this game:
- UofL has an effective FG % of 57.4%. UK’s is 51.2%
- UofL’s average height is 1” taller than UK (78.1” to 77.1”)
- UofL is 2nd in the country in offensive rebound percentage (44.3%). UK’s defense is 166th in the country at allowing offensive rebounds (30.0%)
- UofL has 5 players ranked in the top 500 nationally in KenPom’s offensive rating (Damion Lee- 14, Trey Lewis- 77, Donovan Mitchell- 88, Quentin Snider- 142, Chinanu Onuaku- 179). UK has 2 ranked (Alex Poythress- 35, Marcus Lee- 216)
- UofL has an average experience of 1.48 years (248th nationally). UK has an average experience of 0.91 years (341st nationally).
Ken Pomeroy: 71-70 UK with UofL having a 46% chance of winning.
Sagarin: UofL has a 2.77 point advantage
Sagarin Predictor: UofL has a 5.49 point advantage
NCAAgamesim.com: 180 simulations, Louisville wins 71.7% of the time with an average score of 74.7 to 66.9
** Final Thoughts:
If you have been following me on twitter the past few weeks you will know that I have been talking up this Louisville team. I truly believe they are Final Four caliber. With that being said, this is a rivalry game and Calipari has typically given Pitino a very tough time even when UofL greatly outmatches UK (See 2013) not to mention, UK is still very talented this year. Even with these factors, I believe UofL will pull it out in a hard fought game. Regardless of outcome, I would be very surprised if this wasn’t an incredibly close, incredibly good game.
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