Today marks a key moment for the University of Louisville Men’s Basketball team as the UNC Tarheels invade the Yum! Center riding a 6 game winning streak and lots of positive mojo. It was only a few weeks ago that the Cards managed to choke away a convincing 13 point lead fairly late in the second half in Chapel Hill. Not taking anything away from UNC and the freakishly impressive bucket made by Marcus Paige in that game (did it really go in??), but the Cards were able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on that day by not finding ways to score. Silver lining: That brings me to the discussion of how UofL’s guard play has continued to improve each game since the debacle in the Dean Dome. Terry Rozier has continued to play the role of hero for the Cards with his clutch offensive prowess and smothering defense. The same can be said for Senior guard Chris Jones, who UofL fans are cautiously optimistic in believing that just maybe he has left his shooting slump in the dust and, better yet, started to finally buy in to what Rick Pitino has preached to him since this season started: UofL is a better team when he passes first and shoots second.
As was the case two weeks ago, Montrezl Harrell gets another opportunity today to justify his pre-season All-American tab by proving he can lead his team in a big game. And today’s game is, well, really big. Very few coaches this side of John Calapari have experienced more success in recent years against Rick Pitino than Roy Williams. And dad gummit, Cardinal fans are more than ready to see Pitino remove this small monkey off his back with a win today in front a White Out crowd of 22K fans.
The Cardinals have played their best basketball away from home and that trend must be reversed pronto starting today, especially with home tilts against Notre Dame and Virginia still on the Yum! Center docket. Will the Cards play guarded and uptight? Will they break out of their shell and finally have a good shooting game from the perimeter at home? Will UofL’s role players step up and find ways to alleviate the pressure off Louisville’s “Big 3”? These are all important questions that could vault UofL forward with lots of momentum.
The stage is set for a good one today. National powers, Hall of Fame coaches, crazy atmosphere and, hopefully, a tribute to the recent passing of the famous white squirrel from UofL’s Belknap Campus.
Neck out prediction: Cards 70 Heels 65
Til next time..,