Preview & Prediction: By Fairway Jay
Louisville (8-2) hosts UNLV (11-2) Wednesday in an ESPN2 feature at Freedom Hall. The Cardinals are 7-0 at home this season with an average margin of victory of 28 points (both losses have come on neutral floors).
Louisville returns four starters from the team that buried UNLV 68-48 in November 2007 in Las Vegas. The addition of freshman forward and leading scorer Samardo Samuels along with star forwards Earl Clark and Terrance Williams gives Louisville a sizeable advantage inside against UNLV. Louisville is 12th in the nation in rebounding, but coach Rick Pitino shuffled his lineup last game in the 20-point win over UAB with Clark and senior guard Andre McGee coming off the bench. Louisville’s depth and talent along the frontline should force plenty of outside shots from UNLV with few second chance opportunities.
UNLV’s strength is an aggressive defense and ball pressure with a solid group of guards that can shoot and handle opponent’s pressure. However, UNLV has not shot the ball well this season until their big home win over Arizona. And in today’s contest UNLV will likely play without senior guard and leading scorer Wink Adams, who has not practiced in a week as he recovers from a lower abdominal strain. Adams is a game-time decision and his absence would be a real problem as UNLV deals with Louisville’s full court pressure. UNLV handled similar pressure very well in their recent home victory over Arizona, but a different environment and motivation level while also playing without Adams would be too much for UNLV to overcome. The UNLV guards like to drive and kick the ball out and use rub screens. But against Louisville’s bigger and more athletic players the Rebels will get less good looks inside and must have a hot shooting day from the perimeter to stay close.
Not much scoring can be expected from UNLV against a physical and strong Louisville defense, and the Rebels have a bigger game ahead Saturday in Las Vegas for their Mountain West Conference opener against New Mexico.
Winner: Louisville Margin 10-15 points
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About Fairway Jay
Previews & Predictions
Jay Ginsbach, also known as "Fairway Jay’"joins the CHN team and staff this season from Sportsmemo.com. He’ll provide his insight and expertise covering the college basketball scene with periodic thoughts from a Las Vegas perspective.