Game Info / How to Watch:
Who? #16 Indiana Hoosiers (10-3, #18 KenPom) vs. #6 Louisville Cardinals (11-2, #9 KenPom)
When? Saturday, December 31st, 12:30 PM, CBS
Where? Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Pomeroy? Louisville by 4, 38% chance of Indiana victory
It's the Hoosiers against (a school located in the state of) Kentucky! In Indianapolis! LET'S GO.
Saturday's showcase will pit strength against strength as Indiana's highly efficient offense will take on the nation's best defense. Both teams are coming off home losses in their respective conference openers- the Cardinals were ever-so-slowly ground up into dust by Virginia while the Hoosiers were stunned in Assembly Hall by a struggling Nebraska squad. For the casual observer, it's really a best case scenario, as two very good teams have received the most powerful motivation the sport can provide and will be duking it out on a neutral floor to try and right the ship.
For an Indiana fan it sucks out loud because losing to Nebraska is awful and then you couple it with a crippling football loss and oh god so much blood let's just move on-
HERE WOULD YOU LIKE SOME FACTORS?
|INDIANA (#11 Adj. Offense)||59.4 (3rd)||21.8 (308th)||41.8 (3rd)||39.5 (87th)|
|LOUISVILLE (#1 Adj. Defense)||41.7 (8th)
||29.0 (148th)||36.0 (194th)
|INDIANA (#58 Adj. Defense)||43.5 (19th)||16.4 (311th)||26.9 (74th)||28.5 (59th)|
|LOUISVILLE (#42 Adj. Offense)||48.5 (235th)||16.8 (57th)||38.8 (12th)||36.0 (148th)
Rick Pitino's defensive philosophy is well-known. He's going to throw a variety of different presses and looks at opponents, forcing them to prepare and adjust on a per-possession-basis, and that's just what happens before the shot attempt. Louisville is extremely good at contesting shots (21st on 2s, 4th on 3s), it's no accident that the Cardinals have been in the top-5 for defensive efficiency in nine of the last ten years. Their aggressiveness does lead to some increased fouling, but it's a trade-off Pitino is willing to live with, and the results speak for themselves.
Offensively, things aren't quite as wonderful. The Cardinals have a dearth of shooters and struggle to get consistently good looks. They hit 48.4% of their twos (184th) and 32.4% of their threes (262nd). They have an average free throw rate, but they only hit free throws at a 68.6% clip (209th). That's just too many misses from every level to be all that effective. When the Cardinals are rolling, they're attacking the offensive glass to turn those misses into easy put-backs and getting big plays on defense turned into run outs for easy buckets in transition. Furthermore, they don't give the ball away very much, and you have a far better chance of scoring on possessions that end in shot attempts as opposed to ones that end in surrendering the ball to the opponent. #analysis
Also, I don't know if this has happened to anybody else, but the first thing a lot of people think of when they think Louisville basketball is their defensive pressure, which naturally leads one to think about turnovers. However, Louisville has never been an elite turnover-generating unit under Rick Pitino. They peaked at 25th in 2014 but have otherwise ranged from pedestrian to above-average during his tenure. That's not to say they're bad at it (like, oh-I-don't-know- the Hoosiers?) but here I've been thinking for the last decade that Louisville was some insane turnover-generating menace and it just isn't true.
Granted, they'll make Indiana cough it up 30 times on Saturday. Particularly now that I've brought it up.
Quentin Snider is the leader on offense. He's not a deadeye shooter (43.2% eFG) but he's a tremendous facilitator (24.2% assist rate) and has the ability to heat up at any time (22 points in the win over UK). The other guard, Donovan Mitchell, uses as many possessions and shots as Snider but in a far less efficient manner. He's no better shooting the ball and doesn't facilitate at nearly the same clip, but his tremendous athleticism makes him a highlight threat on either end of the floor. Both backcourt guys aren't afraid to shoot the three (65 and 73 attempts, respectively) but maybe they should be (33.8% and 28.8%, respectively).
In the frontcourt, Jaylen Johnson is an imposing presence for opponents. Johnson is the third best offensive rebounder in the country and the Hoosiers will have to improve their blocking-out after letting the Huskers pull down miss after miss on Wednesday or else risk good defensive possessions being wasted with an easy layup or dunk.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH FOR
- The Turnover-Prone Hoosiers vs. Full-Court Pressure: Can the Hoosiers handle Louisville's variety of pressures? Indiana doesn't need any help when it comes to turning the ball over, but the Cardinals' press can screw you up in a variety of different ways. Being picked up at full court is an exhausting thing to go through and the Hoosiers could be at risk of losing their legs late, and jumpers that typically go in could start falling short. Should Louisville turn up the heat early and often, Tom Crean will have the unenviable task of balancing his primary ball handlers' minutes to keep them fresh throughout the game without sacrificing the offense's efficiency.
- Juwan Morgan vs. His Shoulder (part 79): Complicating that first bullet even more is the potential absence of Juwan Morgan, who has stepped into the point-forward roll admirably this season, and might be Indiana's third-most talented dribbler. His absence really hamstrings the roster's versatility, and takes away a great outlet to help beat traps behind the time line. Tom Crean has been on record calling the injury "a bruise" but it remains to be seen how many minutes (if any) Morgan will be available for on Saturday.
- Quentin Snider vs. Indiana's dA/FGM (43.9%, 19th): The Hoosiers have been among the nation's best when it comes to forcing their opponents to creating shots with one-on-one play while Snider has 4 or more assists in eight games this season. If the Hoosiers can continue to lock down their opponent's ability to move the ball into scoring opportunities, it could go a long way toward pulling out a victory.
- Indiana vs. Bankers Life Fieldhouse: Indiana has a pretty hilariously bad history in this building, but a lot of the current guys have enjoyed at least a mixed bag of trips to the capital's basketball arena. They're 2-2 in the building since the start of the 2014-15 season but (with all due respect to Notre Dame, Butler, and Michigan) this will be the toughest opponent they've faced there.