The Cards are playing great basketball right now and rolled through their first two rounds of the tournament in Lexington. With that said, they do not have any easy games from this point on. The Oregon Ducks are a dangerous 12 seed that should not be overlooked. If Louisville can get past the Ducks, the Cards would face the winners of Duke and Michigan State. Louisville lost to Duke already this season, 76-71, in the Bahamas but were without center Gorgui Dieng. The Cards defeated Michigan State in the Sweet 16 last season, 57-44. The Spartans would be looking for revenge this year.
Here’s a recap of the previous keys to victory and a grade on how they have done thus far:
- Full Court Defensive Pressure (A): The Cardinals combined for a total of 31 steals in the two games and a single game record of 20 against North Carolina A&M. The defensive pressure of the two guards up top, Peyton Siva and Russ Smith, fuel the offense and get the fans excited.
- Luuuuukkkkee (B): It is hard to complain about the shooting percentage of Luke Hancock right now. The past two games he shot 55.6 percent (5-9) from the field. He had three attempts from behind the arch against North Carolina A&M and made one. Against Colorado State, he did not attempt any 3-point shots. His foot was on the line for one and it was nothing but net.
- Wayne Blackshear (C+): Blackshear has improved his shooting overall the past two games, but is still struggling from downtown. He shot 30 percent (2-6) from 3’s in Rupp but shot 60 percent (6-10) from the field. On a positive note, Blackshear was a perfect 3-3 shooting overall including one long ball in the second game against Colorado State. Let’s hope he can keep that up.
- Gorgui Dieng’s Jump Shot (A+): It’s hard to mess with perfection. Dieng is a perfect 9-9 shooting from the field in the tournament. Enough said.
- Chane Behanan? (C-): Behanan still has not shown up. He only scored 13 points and grabbed 4 rebounds the past two games. Chane played the lowest minutes of any of the starters in both games.
- Big Men Bench Play (B+): The two big guys, Montrezl Harrell and Steven VanTreese, combined for 25 points, 15 rebounds and 70 minutes. Harrell is more flashy with his monstrous dunks, but VanTreese is more scrappy and does the dirty work. They are both hustle players and are playing great basketball. They do what the team needs them to do to win, eat up time to give the other big guys some rest while the on-court play does not drop too much.
- Kevin Ware (C+): Ware did not play great, but he did not play bad either. He played just that, average. He did exactly what we expected him to do, play good defense and not turn the ball over while Siva and Smith are on the bench. Ware scored 9 points, grabbed 4 rebounds and played 35 minutes the past two games. Nothing flashy and that is perfect.
The Cardinals make the short trip up to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis to take on the Oregon Ducks on Friday at 7:15. If they keep building on what got them here in the first place, the Cardinals will be in Atlanta soon enough. Just like we have seen in this tournament, anything can happen. As always, go Cards!