Louisville came into this season in flux. Their legendary coach, Rick Pitino, was fired soon before the season due to the Adidas scandal. One of their most promising players, Brian Bowen, was also wrapped up in the scandal and he was dismissed from the team. Instead of falling apart, new coach David Padgett has held the team together and led them to a solid season so far. They are 6-5 in conference with their signature win being at Florida State. They have now lost three in a row though, so they are in danger of falling apart as they get deeper into ACC play. They are under pressure to win this game and their next game at Pitt before they hit a tough three game stretch featuring Duke, UNC, and Virginia.
Louisville plays a lot of players and tends to spread out their scoring a fair bit. Their best player is small forward Deng Adel. He averages 15.5 points per game, but he is not that consistent. He shot 5-9 against Virginia, which is pretty darn good, but in his last five game he has also shot 2-9 against Syracuse, 5-16 against FSU, and 4-16 against Miami, all losses. Keeping him off his game will be key to winning. Helping him is senior point guard Quentin Snider. He averages 12.5 points per game, but only shoots 42.5% from the field (and 36.9% from deep). Big man Ray Spalding adds 11.6 points per game on 53.3% from the field. Against BC, Tech gave up several easy baskets inside to big men who are much less skilled than Spalding. They must step up.
Guard VJ King and center Anas Mahmoud round out the starting lineup. All five players are capable scorers which makes them dangerous. They also have a very deep team. In addition to these five, we will likely see 6’ sharpshooter Ryan McMahon, guard Darius Perry, wings Dwayne Sutton and Jordan Nwora, and power forward Malik Williams. That 10 man rotation is sure to push Tech’s 6 (maaaaaybe 7) man rotation to the brink.
One bright note is that Louisville does not shoot the ball from three that much, nor are they great at making them when they do shoot. They are 237th in the country in percentage of points scored from three pointers. This is big for Tech who has struggled with that. This probably means they play a lot of zone which will help keep legs fresher and fouls lower.
Defensively Louisville is a fantastic team. Their defense is rated 24th in the country by kenpom. They are particularly good at stopping other teams from shooting well. They are 11th in the country in eFG% against. That is really, really, really good. This Georgia Tech team has a lot of trouble scoring the basketball. That’s not a good combination. This game could look like the game against Virginia, in which the offense utterly failed to score against a good defense, or it could look like the game against Syracuse, in which the offense scrapped together enough points off turnovers and hustle points to win. This team needs to win the turnover battle and they have to maintain the boards. If they are going to win, it’s going to be a low scoring scrap fest in which those extra possessions can win you the game. One thing to watch out for, Louisville is very long and is #7 in block percentage.
This game is taking place at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville (yes that’s the actual name). The game takes place at 7 pm eastern and will be shown on ESPN 2. Go Yellow Jackets!