For any team that finds themselves playing in the Final Four in early April, there is one common bond — they are red hot.
For the Louisville Cardinals however, they are more than just red hot, they are on a 14-game winning streak. The Cardinals are the only team remaining in the NCAA Tournament field to have won their conference tournament and their winning ways date a lot deeper than that.
In fact, the last time this Louisville team lost was back on Feb. 9 and ironically enough, it took five overtimes to beat them. Outside of Notre Dame‘s thrilling victory on that date, the Cardinals are 17-1 since Jan. 26. That’s pretty impressive.
At this point in the season however, anything can happen. 14 consecutive wins and 17 victories in their past 18 games overall, is virtually meaningless, but it’s a scary good factor if you’re looking into the game beforehand. Louisville entered the tournament as one of the hottest teams in the nation and that trend has yet to be broken. With that being said, the Cardinals still need two more wins to finish this season where they want.
Much of their postseason success can be attributed to junior guard Russ Smith, who is averaging 26 points per game in the NCAA Tournament. Smith’s scoring ability has been taken to the next level with the Cardinals’ overall ability to control the tempo and the transitional aspect of the game.
Tough defense turns into easy baskets and it’s not much of a surprise when it’s Smith finishing at the other end.
Wichita State is more than capable of beating Louisville on Saturday, but there is no denying the streak and consistent demeanor that this Louisville squad has carrying over the course of the past two months.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS