2013 NCAA Tournament: Can Russ Smith Lead No. 1 Louisville Cardinals to Victory?

By Trevor Lowry
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 1 overall seed Louisville Cardinals are just one game away from the Final Four. Can Russ Smith lead his team to victory over the No. 2 Duke Blue Devils?

Louisville and Duke already played each other once this season and Duke won that contest by six points. However, the Cardinals have not lost since Feb. 14 and they are cruising along through the 2013 NCAA Tournament.

The highest seed that this team has played in the tournament was the No. 8 Colorado State Rams, so Louisville better be ready for its toughest game of the dance.

Luckily for Louisville, though, Smith has been in beast mode, averaging 27 points per game in the tournament. He dropped 31 against the No. 12 Oregon Ducks in the Sweet 16. Smith is a big part of this offense and he will have to have another big game for Louisville to move on.

Although the Cardinals do not have as high of a scoring offense as the Blue Devils, their defense is arguably the best in the country. Louisville may only be averaging 73.6 points per game on the year, but it is averaging 79.3 points per game in the Big Dance. A big reason for the increase is the great play of Smith.

Smith will have to keep up with Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee, who are both doing wonders for Duke in the tourney. Curry is coming off of a 29-point performance against No. 3 Michigan State. The matchup between these two players will definitely be a good one.

However, the winner of this game will be one step closer to being the NCAA Tournament champions. The winner will be in the Final Four.


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