We have a very large game against Louisville coming up this Friday evening. Avinash took an initial look at the Cardinals and then Ragnarok and Avinash dropped some more red hot fire on us.
For today, however, we wanted to go straight to the source. So, we dialed up Card Chronicle, SBN's Louisville Cardinals blog. They have all the answers to our Louisville-related questions. After the jump, check out their answers to our questions. And feel free in the comments to provide your own thoughts about some of our questions. How will Cal deal with Samardo Samuels inside? How will Cal's 3 point sharpshooters do against UofL? GO BEARS!
1. Are you as confident that Louisville will beat Cal as all of the college basketball media seems to be? Why or why not?
I'm not confident in this team's ability to do anything outside of show up. No one who has followed Louisville for the past four months should feel any sense of optimism or pessimism heading into any contest from this point on. All you can really do is watch.
That being the case, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little happy to see Cal's name pop up next to the Cards given U of L's recent tournament success against Pac-10 teams and the relative strength, or lack thereof, of the conference this season.
2. Louisville beat Syracuse twice, while Cal got destroyed by them the only time they played. What did Louisville do to Syracuse in both those games that led to the wins?
Syracuse is a good matchup for Louisville because they play nothing but zone, making the Cardinals' lack of quickness and playmakers almost a non-issue. The Orange also lack a quality ballhandler which enabled U of L's pressure - which has been largely ineffective this year - to rack up a handful of garbage points off turnovers.
There's also the fact that Syracuse had been cruising for weeks before the first Louisville game and was in desperate need of a wake-up call. And in the second meeting (the last game ever played at Freedom Hall and U of L's Senior Day) I'm not sure that anyone in the country could have beaten the Cardinals.
3. Cal has had a weak inside presence at times this year. What is the state of Louisville's inside game? What players should Cal fans watch for in the paint?
Samardo Samuels was the USA Today National Player of the Year coming out of high school and probably the most heralded recruit Rick Pitino has brought to Louisville. His career at U of L, though, has been a bit of a disappointment.
Samuels is skilled; he can knock down the 15-footer, is excellent with the right-hand hook and is an above-average free-throw shooter for his size, but he's not a great defender and has displayed little-to-no desire to rebound. He scored 36 points against a Luke Harangody-less Notre Dame, but since then has averaged just 11 points and turned the ball over 23 times with just three assists while dealing with constant double teams.
Fellow sophomore Terrence Jennings starts at the four, but will spend the majority of the game subbing in and out for Samuels at the five. He's the far more athletic of the two and he's a terrific shot-blocker, but his offensive game hasn't come around quite as much as many were predicting before the season.
4. Cal relies heavily on its 3 point sharpshooters. Apparently, Louisville's 3 point defense is not its strong suit. What do you expect Louisville to do defensively to try to slow Cal's 3 point shooting?
Louisville has been atrocious at defending the three, meaning that if the Bears are hitting from deep it could be a short tournament for us.
I wouldn't expect Louisville to try anything they haven't already. Pitino has had this team mix up its defenses throughout the season, and he generally ends up going with whatever is working best in a particular game.
U of L playing more man than it has recently is a solid bet since Cal does shoot the ball so well from outside and doesn't have the types of players who are going to kill the Cards off the bounce.
5. We've been hearing a lot about how Louisville swept Syracuse, but you guys managed to lose 12 other games. What happened in those losses? In specific, the losses to Charlotte, Western Carolina, and St. John's. What are Louisville's weaknesses?
Three guards (Jerry Smith, Preston Knowles and Peyton Siva) were injured for the Charlotte and Western Carolina games, although it's probably more accurate to chalk those losses up to being the product of a head coach whose recent teams have been notoriously slow starters than anything else.
The St. John's loss is less explicable. Seemingly out-of-nowhere Louisville appeared completely inept and totally un-motivated. Naturally, they beat Syracuse at Syracuse three days later.
This is what we're working with.
6. BONUS QUESTION! Why is it Louaville and not Louis Ville?
We simply don't respect the way the French pronounce anything. There's also a Versailles in Kentucky which is pronounced Ver-Sales.
Bring your friend Pierre over for dinner and I'll tell him how much I enjoyed walking through the Loovrey.
7. How much is Louisville going to win by? How much is Louisville not going to win by should they lose?
Louisville will win or lose by either less than six or more than 17. Anything in between is an impossibility.
8. In the incredibly disappointing chance that Cal loses, how far do you think Louisville will advance in the tourney?
Louisville actually matches up fairly favorably with Duke, but after seeing what we've seen from this team in the past few months it'd be foolish to give a straight-faced prediction of advancing past the first weekend.
If Louisville gets by Cal, they'll fight valiantly but fall to Duke.