A Thrilla in Charlottesvilla
Tonight the Louisville Cardinals will enter into what will surely be a defensive slug fest as they knock heads with the Virginia Cavaliers. It’s rare that a Rick Pitino coached UofL ever plays a team more defensively gifted and talented as his squad, but tonight may be an exception. Virginia comes into tonight’s game ranked #2 in the nation in defensive proficiency. The Cavs have smothered nearly every opponent on their schedule thus far and being that UofL has struggled mightily at times at scoring on the offensive end makes the Cards a viable target for destruction.
Coming off a recent solid road win at Miami, the greatest Jeckyl & Hyde program of the ’14-’15 college hoops campaign, the Cards look to build some momentum heading into the home stretch of their first regular season in the ACC. A win over a top 5 nationally ranked Virginia team would be just the prescription. However, winning on Saturday night will take Louisville’s best effort of the season thus far.
The last time these schools played on the hardwood was in 1990 when Color Me Bad was tearing up the Billboard’s Top 20 so there is no rivalry tag to be linked to tonight’s game. Instead, it will more importantly serve as a great Litmus test for Louisville and another #1 seed resume builder for UVA. Coming off a tough home loss to the hands of Duke a week ago, one would think Coach Tony Bennett would have his team fully ready to defend home court from here on out before entering the conference tournament. If I were a gambling man, which I am not, I would bet the farm that Virginia will not only double Montrezl Harrell every time he touches the rock but also the first team this season to double Terry Rozier, UofL’s most prolific scorer. Rozier has killed teams of late with his throw back mid-range game and will certainly be poised to do the same tonight unless UVA has a plan to stop it, which I believe they will. As in so many other games against top competition this year, UofL will have to get something, at this point ANYTHING, from it’s post players not named Harrell. Virginia thrives on killing teams in the glass so it will be imperative that Chinanu Onuaku and Mango Mathiang do their best to establish a physical presence in the paint.
Tonight is not a must-win game for either team. However, the loser will have ground to make up in the conference standings and a bad taste in their mouth afterwards. The bell will ring later this evening, Cardinal Nation hopes the Cards will answer and come out of their corner ready to compete.