Louisville basketball will take on their first ranked team of the season when they face Wisconsin.
The first time Louisville basketball is an underdog on betting lines in 2020 comes at a very challenging time for the program.
On Saturday afternoon, the Cardinals will be back in action for the first time since Dec. 1. After an 18 day battle with Covid, they make their return to the court. But it is not without some consequence.
When speaking with the media this week, Louisville head coach Chris Mack went on record to say that the team would be shorthanded for this game after 90 percent of the team contracted (and recovered from) Covid.
A team playing without several key players due to injury or Covid reasons and one that has not played in nearly three weeks does not seem to set up too kindly for Louisville against one of the better teams in the nation.
But the Cardinals are working on an undefeated resume so far this season and will be attempting to keep that alive when they take on No. 12 Wisconsin on Saturday.
Let’s get in to previewing Louisville’s matchup against the Badgers.
Who: Louisville Cardinals (4-0) at Wisconsin Badgers (5-1)
Where: Kohl Center; Madison, Wisconsin
When: Saturday, Dec. 19, at noon eastern time
Spread: Wisconsin -6
Projected starting lineups (via gocards.com)
F 10 Samuell Williamson 6-7 210 So. Rockwall, Texas
F 14 Dre Davis 6-5 220 Fr. Indianapolis, Ind.
C 24 Jae’Lyn Withers 6-8 215 R-Fr. Charlotte, N.C.
G 1 Carlik Jones 6-2 185 Gr. Cincinnati, Ohio
G 13 David Johnson 6-5 210 So. Louisville, Kentucky
F 2 Aleem Ford 6-8 217 Gr. Lawrenceville, Ga.
F 35 Nate Reuvers 6-11 235 Sr. Lakeville, Minn.
C 11 Micah Potter 6-10 248 Gr. Mentor, Ohio
G 0 D’Mitrik Trice 6-0 184 Gr. Huber Heights, Ohio
G 34 Brad Davison 6-4 202 Sr. Maple Grove, Minn.
Louisville basketball will be back in action for the first time since Dec. 1 when they take on Wisconsin. Who are three players to watch for the Badgers?
Players to watch for Louisville
Much of who to watch in this one will depend on who is actually available on Saturday for the Cardinals. Depending on who is out, others will have to attempt to fill in the gaps and step up if Louisville has any hopes of winning this game.
Samuell Williamson – He has not played since Nov. 27 against Seton Hall after he was taken to the locker room with a dislocated toe in the second half of that game. Williamson is one of the most important pieces to this 2020-21 squad and it sounds like he will be available for the game tomorrow since he talked to the media this week. Look for him to have a big game in this one.
Jae’Lyn Withers – Much of this game is dependent on who is actually available (to which nobody except the team has any awareness of). But, if he is game ready, Withers will have to have another performance similar to his one against Prairie View A&M when he put up 20 points and 9 rebounds earlier in the year. Withers is a young player finding his footing. But he will have to find it quickly against two of the best big men in the country this weekend.
We will see who is not yet available for Louisville as they deal with the proper Covid protocols within the program. But, one thing for certain is that the Cardinals are going to have their hands full against a veteran team on Saturday.
Wisconsin is going to look at running constant pick-and-roll action against Louisville and how the Cardinals defend it will likely be the difference between winning and losing this game.
Louisville’s need to prioritize stopping the trio of Trice, Reuvers, and Potter in this game cannot be overstated. They can easily cause Louisville a ton of issues especially with the 6’10”-plus size of Reuvers and Potter on the floor.
Louisville 67, Wisconsin 73
It just does not feel like a good time for Louisville to have to play this game. Wisconsin has shown their vulnerability with a loss to a lesser Marquette team already in 2020, but the 18 day absence from games is likely to cause the Cardinals to show some rust early on.
In normal circumstances, I would have likely picked Louisville to win just based upon the fact that I think this is still an underrated team by national standards. But these are anything but normal times for Louisville basketball.
If Louisville does win this game, look for Sam Williamson to have a very strong return and the bigs for the Cardinals to have a big-time breakout performance.