MSU vs. Louisville Scouting Report and Prediction

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Wow, I’m still out of breath from that Kansas game. It was perhaps the most magical win in what is turning into an incredibly magical season. So after that effort, this one’s for you Coach Izzo, hopefully it helps.

 

Now for the real business…Louisville.

 

How they got here:

The Cardinals took down 16-seed Morehead State, 9-seed Siena and, most recently, 12-seed Arizona.

 

Opponent’s Storylines:

- Rick Pitino’s squad is the #1 overall seed in this year’s tournament and anything less than national championship would have to be considered a failure down Derby way.

 

- Senior Forward/Point Guard/Everything Terrence Williams is one of the best personalities in college basketball and Forward Earl Clark is sure to be a top 5 pick in next years NBA Draft.

 

Stats you need:

- The Cardinals are led by Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino, finished 27-9 overall and won the Big East regular season with a 14-4 conference record, a conference that sent five teams to this years round of eight, and also won the Big East tournament after downing Syracuse in the Finals.

 

- For all the big wins (PITT, Marquette, Syracuse, Villanova) there Cards suffered some unattractive losses including a 33-point drubbing at the hands of Notre Dame, a one-point home loss to UNLV, another home loss against Minnesota (the same Minnesota team MSU beat all three times they faced this season) and a humbling 14 point loss to Western Kentucky (That is NOT a misprint).

 

- Louisville is a very balanced scoring team with three players averaging over 10 ppg, and two players averaging over 8 rebounds per contest.

 

- Similar to MSU, Louisville averaged in the mid-70’s in ppg (74.9) and held opponent to just over 60 ppg (61.8).

 

Starting Five:

G – Jerry Smith (Jr.) 7.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.3 apg

- Smith is a great shooter from beyond the 3-point line hitting 41.1% of his shots from deep…Average from the free throw line at 66.7%…Is used primarily as a shooter from outside on the drive and kick…Suffered a bit of a down year this year after averaging over 10 ppg his sophomore year…Dangerous shooter in transition.

 

G – Andre McGee (Sr.) 5.5 ppg, 1.8 apg, 1.7 rpg

- Probably the strongest defensive guard Louisville has…Can hit from deep at 37.6% from the land of plenty…Only scored in double figures five times this season…Will probably be the player MSU leaves to double team either Clark or Williams…Will have to hit shots when left open the way Travis Walton does.

 

G/F – Terrence Williams 12.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 5 apg

- One of the best players in the nation this season, Williams does it all for the Cards…Is listed a 6’6” but runs the “Point Forward” position much the way Magic Johnson did when he was with the Lakers…Rebounds exceptionally well for 6’6” (8.6 rpg)…Would rather see another player score than get the bucket himself (5 apg), but certainly isn’t shy shooting the ball in clutch situations (see: 2nd round game clincher vs. Siena)…Hits nearly 40% from three-point land (39.3%)…Pesky defender (averages 2.4 steals per game) who causes problems with his length…A match-up nightmare for any coach with his size and length, will most likely draw Raymar Morgan as his defensive assignment… A big game from Williams could spell trouble for the Spartans.

 

G/F – Earl Clark 14.1 ppg, 8.8 rpg, 3.3 apg

- If having one All-American caliber player in Williams wasn’t enough, Louisville has arguably the best player in the nation in Clark…A future lottery pick in the NBA…Is every bit of the 6’9” at which he’s listed…Has exceptional ball skills for his height…Stretches defenses by shooting 32% from beyond the arc…Can score on jump shots, 3 pointers and with his back to the basket…Even more of a match-up nightmare than Williams with his diverse game…Can pass the ball well out of the post and from the wing (3.3 apg)…Has topped double digits on the scorecard every game since a February 2nd meeting with UConn…Has 17 double-doubles thus far this year…Is a real force in every aspect of the game

 

F- Samardo Samuels 12.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg

- This Jamaican big man is one of the best Freshman in the country…Very Highly recruited out of high school as a McDonalds All-American…Has some serious bulk, tipping the scales at 260 lbs…Can really bang with his back to the basket, a rare sight on this Cardinal squad…Can get into foul trouble easily (3.0 personal fouls per game)…Not the quickest player, but is very smooth…Gets most of his points on put-backs and easy dunks…Not much of a shooter…Will have to be kept off the boards if the Spartans want to stay in the game

 

Analysis:

The ‘Ville was picked by many of the talking heads to cut down the nets in Detroit and they certainly have the team to do it. Their bench is a little shallow, especially in the frontcourt, but with their starters looking as fresh as ever, it may not matter. The strength of this team is in its forwards Williams, Clark and Samuels; these three have won the Cardinals many a game and will be tough for MSU to contain. The Spartans best chance to win will be by exploiting the ‘Ville’s Guards and bench. Kalin Lucas, Travis Walton, Chris Allen and Durrell Summers all have considerable physical advantages on anyone Louisville can run out, but if MSU fails to take advantage they will have to really scrap to stay in the game because the combo of Clark and Williams is exactly the type of 1-2 punch that can carry a team to a national title. Louisville will try to get the Spartan bigs into foul trouble early by driving the ball down the lane the way USC did in the second round. MSU will have to limit their turnovers, because they will not be able to do what they did in the first half against Kansas and expect to move on to Motown.

 

Prediction:

In the last minute of the Kansas game Kalin Lucas proved that great guard play and depth are what wins games in the NCAA tournament. Luckily for the Spartans they have a decided advantage over Louisville in both these categories but just because it looks great on paper doesn’t mean it will translate to the court. Coach Izzo will have to use his depth, especially in the frontcourt, early in the game to try to wear down Louisville’s incredibly talented big men and get one of the Clark-Williams-Samuels trio in early foul trouble.

 

MSU eeks out a victory on the broad shoulders of Kalin Lucas

 

68-67!

 

 

THANKS FOR READING SPARTAN NATION
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