The No. 10 Louisville Cardinals (22-5) will wrap up their BIG EAST road trips this week with visits to DePaul (11-16) tonight and No. 12 Syracuse (22-6) on Saturday. It is important for the Cardinals to not look ahead to the weekend and take care of business in Rosemont, IL.
While the Blue Demons have lost 13 of their last 15 games, they do have the ability to make things interesting. Brandon Young and Cleveland Melvin lead the DePaul scoring attack. Young is averaging 16.5 points and 4.5 assists per game. The 6’4” Young has scored 20 points or more 7 times this season and poured in 35 points against Connecticut back on January 8. Melvin is adding 16.3 points to go along with 7.4 rebounds per outing and has scored 20-plus points 9 times. He scored 32 against Cincinnati on January 15. The two help give the Blue Demons a healthy 73.1 points per game average; which is 54th best in the country.
To slow down Young and Melvin, the Cardinals will rely on their shutdown defense. UofL is forcing 18.8 turnovers and coming up with 10.7 steals per game; both rank in the top 3 in the country.
On the offensive side of the ball, Russ Smith’s 18.4 points per game is best for Louisville. Chane Behanan has recently become the team’s second leading scorer with 11.0 points and adds 7.4 rebounds per contest. Big man Gorgui Dieng likely frightened coaches throughout the BIG EAST when he put on a jump shooting clinic last game out against Seton Hall. Dieng scored a career-high 23 points on 10-of-11 shooting. The 6’11” center is averaging 9.8 points and a dominate 10.2 rebounds per game.
While Louisville is a heavy 15.5 point favorite, they must stay in the faces of Young and Melvin. If the stars align and both play lights out, it could be a long ride to New York. DePaul has been playing lousy defense over their last 6 games and allowing opponents to shoot 55.9 percent from the field. UofL can capitalize if they force an up tempo pace as it should generate open looks and should be the difference maker.
With No. 1 Indiana and No. 8 Florida losing last night, upsets can become contagious during this wild year of college basketball.
UofL 77 DePaul 66