Louisville basketball: Cardinals set to face potent Northern Iowa


The round of 64 nearly cost the Louisville Cardinals their season, as an upset minded UC Irvine gave the Cards everything they could handle. However, despite the troubles, the Cardinals were victorious and moved onto today’s round of 32 matchup for a ticket to the sweet 16, but in order to get there, they must go through another upset minded team, Northern Iowa. If you would truly even call a four over a five seed an upset.

UNI only has three loses this season, with two of those losses coming against NCAA tourney teams, VCU and Wichita State, both of which were played away for the Panthers.

Northern Iowa handily took care of Wyoming in the round of 64, with points of the game being close, but ultimately ran away with the show and won by 17. The Panthers were able to distribute the wealth against the Cowboys defense, allowing five players to score in the double digits.

As a team UNI just had a great shooting performance, going 46 percent from the floor, an astounding 50 percent from 3, and 89 percent from the free throw line (16 of 18 to be exact).

The Louisville defense is going to have to be on point if it wants to stop an offense that has the potency as those numbers. But when it comes to Rick Pitino, his teams can crank out the best defenses in the crunch time. Despite that fact, the Cards did allow UC Irvine to complete 46 percent of their field goals, which could be extended to a higher number if the Panthers get a hot streak going.

The main question for the Cardinals this game is will their offense be able to match their opponent’s. Since the loss of Chris Jones, one of the better scoring threats the Cardinals had to offer, UofL has been hit or miss with their offensive efficiency. One game they will be able to hit shots and beat a huge opponent (ex: Virginia in last regular season game), and then not be able to compete in others.

The Cardinals truly need another huge game by senior Wayne Blackshear, who exhibited his offensive assault on the Anteaters in their opening tourney game, dropping 19 points, while also helping on the defensive end by finding a team high seven rebounds. Quentin Snider and Terry Rozier will also need to be huge contributors, as both had good performances last game, and then of course Montrezl Harrell who will need to up his game from last outing.

The Cardinals definitely have the ability to move on to the sweet sixteen, which if able to, would then meet ACC foe NC State whom tamed the Cards in KFC Yum! Center back on Valentines Day by nine points. Before that potential matchup, the Cards must fight some purple and gold boys to advance on. Louisville will square off in the late game to fight to punch the last sweet sixteen bid of the tourney. The Cardinals and Panthers throw down at 9:40 ET this evening.

For some more analysis, check out 120 Sports’ breakdown of the game.