Preview & Prediction: By Fairway Jay
The #3-ranked Louisville Cardinals (2-0) are back in action after a week off, and they tip-off at 3:00pm EST against Western Kentucky (2-2). The two Kentucky schools will compete on a neutral court at the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Louisville has a pair of impressive home wins by 25+ points to open the season, and Cardinals coach Rick Pitino has been quite pleased with his team's defensive play, effort and intensity in the early going. They have applied and played with relentless pressure, and how well Western Kentucky handles that pressure will be the determining factor on whether they can stay competitive and close into the second half of this contest.
Fabulous freshman Samardo Samuels leads Louisville with 21ppg and 77% FG shooting. The 6-8 power forward/center was last year’s USA Today National Player of the Year, and joins upperclassmen and future NBA players Earl Clark and Terrence Williams to form a formidable front line that has a superior size, strength and athletic advantage over Western Kentucky’s forward lineup. Combined with the experience and depth at guard, and Louisville is a clear Big East and Final Four contender this season. Point guards Andre McGee and Edgar Sosa have each started one game and give the Cardinals a terrific tandem at the point position to create, distribute and defend. Along with shooting guards Jerry Smith and Preston Knowles, the Cardinals have a very solid rotation of perimeter players and defenders.
First year Western Kentucky coach Ken McDonald has shuffled through a variety of starting lineups in the early going as he tries to find the right chemistry and cohesiveness to replace last years dynamic guard duo of Courtney Lee and Tyrone Brazelton. One of the leaders thus far is junior shooting guard A.J. Slaughter, a Kentucky native who grew up a huge University of Louisville fan. Emotions will be running high, but the Hilltoppers don’t have enough talent to take out Louisville, but I do anticipate a solid defensive effort by both teams.
As expected, Louisville is a big favorite. They cruised to a comfortable win over Sun Belt contender South Alabama, who features a stronger and more experienced front line than Western Kentucky. While that contest was played on back-to-back nights for both teams on Louisville’s home court, the match-up and motivation still says Louisville should roll again over Western Kentucky.
Winner: Louisville Margin: 20+ 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.