#15 Purdue Boilermakers (5-1) vs. #14 Louisville Cardinals (5-1)
November 30, 2016 @ 7:15 PM EST
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The Louisville Cardinals are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the #9 team in the nation, the Baylor Bears, in the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship. This loss was very disappointing for Louisville because they were leading by 20+ points at one point in the game! The Cardinals struggled in the game against Baylor when the Bears switched from their zone defense to a man-to-man defense. Early on in the season, we have seen Louisville struggle against tough man-to-man defenses, so it should be interesting how Rick Pitino has worked with his offense the past week in preparation for Purdue’s tough defense!
Purdue is riding a four game winning streak going into the KFC Yum! Center tonight! A large part of their success has been the success of Caleb Swanigan. Swanigan has scored over 14 points in every game this season and has three 20-point games. Purdue’s margin of victory is 21.4 points this year, and their only loss was to the #2 team in the country, The Villanova Wildcats. Purdue is a very explosive team this season that can put up points in a hurry. They are shooting over 50% from the floor and over 40% from long range. Any time the Boilermakers are playing a Top 25 team, it will be a close game because of Caleb Swanigan and company!
What Is The Matchup to Watch?
One word comes to mind when thinking of a team coached by Rick Pitino. Defense! Rick Pitino may be one of the top defensive coaches in college basketball and has continued Louisville’s defensive success into this season. The Cards are forcing 15.7 turnovers per game and have the 6th best scoring defense in the country! So who is able to beat this top tier defense? The only player on Purdue that comes to mind is Caleb Swanigan. Look for Swanigan to deliver huge minutes for Purdue tonight against the Cards. The matchup to watch is Swanigan vs. the Louisville backcourt. Anas Mahmoud, Jaylen Johnson, and Deng Adel will most likely be guarding Caleb Swanigan tonight, and if they can keep him below 20 points, Louisville should be able to pull out a slim victory. Purdue relies heavily on the play of Swanigan, but he is not the only piece to their puzzle! If Vince Edwards and Dakota Mathias can take pressure off of Swanigan and shoot lights out from long range, it will be a long night for Rick Pitino and the Cards.
X-Factor for the Cardinals: V.J. King & Quentin Snider
As a team, the Cardinals are shooting 32% from long range so far this season. Quentin Snider shot 32% from 3-point range in the Battle 4 Atlantis, and V.J. King shot 25%. After pouring on 17 points in the game versus William & Mary on November 14th, King scored 17 points in his past three games down in the Bahamas. Quentin Snider is a leader of the Louisville squad this year and needs to continue scoring in double figures for the Cards tonight. As for V.J. King, he needs to seize his opportunities off the bench. The McDonald’s All-American has a chance to go off at any point he is on the floor. Louisville will need a big performance from these two tonight if they want to get their season back on track!
X-Factor for the Boilermakers: Offensive Rebounds
Purdue is not a fantastic rebounding team, averaging only 38 rebounds per game. Louisville, on the other hand, is averaging 47 rebounds per game. Isaac Haas and Caleb Swanigan will have to attack the offensive glass after every shot tonight. Second chance points could end up deciding who will win this game tonight. If the Boilermakers can out rebound Louisville’s seven footers, they can pull off the upset.
Key Stat and Prediction
Although I have dug up almost every stat for each of these teams so far in this article, there is one important stat I have not mentioned. Free-throw percentage may be the most important stat for all of the College Basketball world, but has hurt Louisville this season. Louisville is shooting 65% from the free-throw line this season and Purdue is shooting 70%. Both of these teams struggle from the line and could ultimately determine the result of the game. The free-throw line will determine the winner of the game tonight! Both teams are great programs in College Basketball and are always ranked high come time for March Madness, but one of them will receive their second loss on the season tonight and the other will gain a lot of power points! My prediction for tonight is a very, very slim victory for the Louisville Cardinals as a result of a fastbreak lay-up by Donovan Mitchell off a turnover late in the game. I am predicting a 77-75 Louisville victory tonight, giving the ACC another victory in the ACC/Big-10 Challenge.
The Ville ‘20
(Photo from Louisville Athletics)