Louisville basketball: 3 players to watch for Pitt

Justin Champagnie #11 of the Pittsburgh Panthers (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Justin Champagnie #11 of the Pittsburgh Panthers (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /
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Louisville basketball plays their first ACC game on Tuesday. Let’s look at who could threaten the Cardinals for Pitt.

The Louisville basketball program needs a big-time bounce back effort to get their confidence back after an embarrassing weekend loss.

A matchup against Pittsburgh on Tuesday night will give the Cardinals that opportunity. It is the first ACC play of the season for Louisville.

After starting 4-0 on the season, a long 18-day break from game action proved to be very costly when Louisville was trounced by Wisconsin in a non-conference away game. Louisville lost by 37 and it was one of the most embarrassing losses in recent memory for the program.

Now, the team will have to turn around and play a 5-1 Pittsburgh squad that has won each of their last five games since being upset in the first game of the season by St. Francis (PA).

Chris Mack said that star guard Carlik Jones will be back for this game in a pivotal 2020 ACC debut for the Cardinals.

That is a sign of good news as the Cardinals looked lost on Saturday when Jones was not available for the game due to Covid. They will certainly need him against a streaking Pitt team.

It is going to be extremely important that Louisville does not peek ahead to the highly anticipated Louisville-Kentucky rivalry. If they do so, the Cardinals could easily end up with their second loss in a row.

If Louisville wants to win, these are three players the Cards must key in on.

So. F Justin Champagnie

What you need to know about Justin Champagnie is that he is an elite defender. He is not just good. He is elite.

At only 6’6″, he was one of the best shot blockers in the ACC in the 2019-20 season and is tracking to do the same in 2020.

This season, he has already had two (!) 20 point-20 rebound games. That is ridiculous for someone of Champagnie’s size.

He is an elite athlete and, while he is not the most polished scorer, he can get baskets in the dirty areas and thrives as a high flyer.

Think of him as a “juiced up” version of former Cardinal Dwayne Sutton who played the game in very similar ways as Champagnie does. While Sutton was a great player in Louisville, Champagnie does what Sutton does and more for the Panthers.

He does not have to be the biggest player on the floor. He is one of the best rebounders in the country regardless of size and Louisville will have to be ready to put a body on him every single possession or he could easily take over the game.

Champagnie is averaging 17.8 points,12.3 rebounds, and one block per game through six games this season.