Louisville basketball vs. Pitt gameday primer

Head coach Chris Mack of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Head coach Chris Mack of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Louisville basketball is set to take on Pittsburgh this evening in their first ACC tilt of the season.

On Tuesday night, Louisville basketball will be looking for a huge bounce back performance after being blown out by Wisconsin on Saturday.

The Cardinals are going to be trying to knock off a Pittsburgh team that has rattled off five wins in a row. That will be no easy task for Louisville who is trying to get their confidence back after losing by 37 on Saturday after a long 18-day game drought.

Carlik Jones returns to the lineup Tuesday after missing the team’s last game due to Covid protocols. That is sure to be a sizable boost as the Cardinals looked to be quite lost without him just a few short days ago.

In their ACC debut for the 2020 season, Louisville will have to deal with a high-flying, athletic lineup for Pitt that could cause the Cardinals issues.

Let’s give a full primer on the matchup between Louisville and Pittsburgh.

Who: Louisville Cardinals (4-1) at Pittsburgh Panthers (5-1)

Where: Petersen Events Center; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

When: Tuesday, Dec. 22, at 7 p.m. eastern time.

Spread: Louisville -4.0

TV: RSN (Fox Sports South in Louisville) and ACC Network Extra

Projected starting lineups

Louisville (4-1)

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, Ky.

Pittsburgh (5-1)

F 11 Justin Champagnie 6-6 200 So. Brooklyn, N.Y.

F 12 Abdoul Karim Coulibaly 6-8 215 So. Bamako, Mali

G 0 Ithiel Horton 6-3 200 R-So. Vauxhall, N.J.

G 1 Xavier Johnson 6-3 200 Jr. Woodbridge, Va.

G 5 Au’Diese Toney 6-6 210 Jr. Huntsville, Ala.

Important links

Players to watch for Louisville

Carlik Jones – The graduate transfer from Radford returns to the lineup after his one game absence. In his one game out, Louisville lost by 37. I would expect the team to feel a lot more organized and competitive with his return.

David Johnson – He turned the ball over seven times on Saturday when he was responsible to be the primary ball handler throughout the game. He failed in doing so and Chris Mack called him out for his level of play in the game. You will not find Johnson playing that badly again throughout the rest of the season if Mack’s message resonates.

Samuell Williamson – Williamson was another name called out by Chris Mack for the way he played Saturday. He had been on a roll with his play through the first couple of games before he went down with an injury. Williamson is supposed to be one of Louisville’s best players and Mack clearly wants him to play like it.

Final thoughts

I had not seen many games as bad as the one Louisville played on Saturday. This will be another test that the young Cardinals will need to pass in advance of the rivalry game against Kentucky this upcoming Saturday.

Pitt boasts an extremely athletic lineup that will want to convert defense into offense with fast transition buckets. They will want to use their athleticism in the open floor as much as possible so limiting those opportunities will be key for the Cardinals.

The Chris Mack pack line defense should be able to do a number on the slashing Panthers if Louisville plays it correctly.

Score prediction

Louisville 66, Pittsburgh 62

The Cards match-up well against Pitt. Pitt does not have a true elite big man. Justin Champagnie is their best rebounder at just 6’6″. If Louisville can just compete on the glass, they should give themselves a very good chance to win.

Maybe I am giving the Cardinals too much credit after they just got crushed. But I like this matchup for the Cardinals.

This game could be extremely pivotal for the momentum of the Cardinals heading into the big rivalry this weekend.

Next. Louisville football: Selecting a team MVP for the 2020 season. dark