Louisville Cardinals: 5 Reasons They Are Headed to Final Four
Reasons Louisville Will be in Final Four
Louisville is once again at the top spot in the NCAA Tournament. This is not an unfamiliar position for the Cardinals as they found themselves in the No. 1 overall spot in the 2009 tournament, but they hope to have a better finish this year than '09.
Rick Pitino has been at the helm since 2001 and has seen this team trek through two different conferences, soon to be three, and has brought them great success.
It's hard to fill a guy's shoes who finished his coaching career at Louisville with 675 wins (Denny Crum), but Pitino did just that. He has accumulated 306 wins with Louisville and they have made the tournament in 10 of the last 11 seasons, including four Elite Eights and tow Final Fours.
The Cardinals are poised to make their second straight Final Four and win their third national title. They haven't made two straight Final Fours in just about 30 years when Crum was the lead man in Louisville.
This year could be their year as they boast one of the best defenses in college basketball and have a lineup that could bring fear to any team standing in their way.
In order to get to the Final Four, however, they must get past a red-hot Oregon team and the winner of the Michigan State-Duke game. Both of the teams that they would possibly match up with in the Midwest Region title game are arguably the best No. 2 and No. 3 seeds in the entire tournament.
Here's why the Louisville Cardinals will make the Final Four in Atlanta this year.
When Russ Smith Gets Hot it's Game Over
Russ Smith can get hot at any given moment and when he does, it's next to impossible to beat the Cardinals. He is the team's leading scorer by an astounding eight points to the next closest scorer and he can be a long-range master if he catches fire. Smith averages 18.1 points a game to go along with 33 percent shooting from distance. If he gets hot and stays hot, no one will beat Louisville.
Peyton Siva Runs an Efficient Point
Peyton Siva has led the Cardinal offense for the past few seasons and led it efficiently. Siva is one of the top point guards in the nation and his assist-to-turnover ration is rock solid. Although he turns the ball over 2.7 times a game, he averages nearly six assists per game. The Cardinals are in good hands with him at point and he has led them to the promised land (Final Four) before. I wouldn't doubt that he could do it again.
Defense is Their Specialty
Out of the 36 games they have played this season, Louisville held teams under 60 points in 24 games. The Cardinals are one of the nation's top defenses and have the power to hold a streaking Oregon team to a sub-60 point total and even the winner between Duke and Michigan State. Lousville played the Spartans in the Sweet 16 last season and held them to under 50 points, dominating on the defensive side of the ball, and they can do it again.
Louisville Matches up Well With Michigan State, Duke
As mentioned before, the Spartans and Cardinals met just a season ago and the two teams look similar to those that met last season. The only difference is that the Spartans lost their leader in Draymond Green, but gained a wealth of talent with their trio of freshmen. They held Michigan State in check and could easily do it again if they utilize Gorgui Dieng's post play. Dieng could overpower Duke and the Cardinals' guard play matches up well with both teams.
They Are Arguably the Best Team in the Tournament
The Cardinals finished the season with a 26-5 record and, more importantly, they are on a 12-game win streak. They steam-rolled through most of the Big East and finished with a first-place regular season tie for the conference title and won their second straight conference tournament title. They are the definition of hot right now and they have the experience necessary to make a deep tournament run.