NCAA Tournament: Louisville basketball aims at Michigan State


As surprising as it may be, the Louisville Cardinals have a chance to make it to the Final Four without having played a seed higher than a five, that being their win against Northern Iowa. They say that you need a little bit of luck to go far into the NCAA Tournament, and while the Cards have received some, their play has also stepped up. The boys in red look nothing like they have all season, a team that just had defensive capabilities, has now transformed into what appears to be a well rounded squad, despite losing their leading scorer a few weeks before the season concluded.

However, the Cardinals defensive will be put to arguably its biggest test all tournament as they now have to halt an “on fire” Michigan State squad that has a head full of steam running for Indy.

Louisville Cardinals
Louisville Cardinals /

Louisville Cardinals

One of the best players in the nation right now wears those green stitched letters that read “State” across his chest, being Travis Trice. The senior guard has been spectacular so far this tournament, including a combined 47 points in his last two outings against the number two and three seeded teams in the East Region. Trice has also went 8-17 from the arc the past two games, while also shooting near .500 in the same contests.

He is followed closely behind by the man who is such a great all-around player, Denzel Valentine who is another Spartan that has come alive in the postseason. Valentine was a huge factor on Friday in State’s win over Oklahoma, with the senior dropping 18 points and finding 7 boards.

The Cardinals will no doubt need to limit these two, and if able to cause the offense to not flow through Trice and Valentine, then I really like Louisville’s chances. The Cards should have a positive outlook on their ability to stop the momentum filled Spartans however, after halting “hot hand” Anthony “Cat” Barber to just 8 points on Friday in the Cardinals win over NC State.

Montrezl Harrell has just continued to get better as the tournament has progressed, and that is in no way good for the Spartans. Harrell opened tournament play against UC Irvine with just 8 points, totaled 14 against UNI, and finally dropped 24 in the win on Friday against the Wolfpack. Not only has Harrell scored, but he has scored with accuracy, as he shot an outstanding  75 percent from the floor last game.

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To contradict Travis Trice, the Cards have their sophomore phenom who just continues to light up the stat sheet, recording a double-double Friday, as he found almost as many rebounds as he had points, 14 boards, just 3 shy of his points total of 17.

It is always fun when two highly renowned coaches go head-to-head, especially when a ticket to Indy is on the line. When it comes down to it all, one of these two squads may get out-played, but there is no way that either of these teams will be out-coached.

The Cardinals look to become the second team from the state of Kentucky to make this year’s Final Four, after the Kentucky Wildcats survived a near upset to the very potent Fighting Irish last night. Louisville and company set their sights on Michigan State and the Spartans at 2:20 ET.

One last tidbit, the Cardinals are 15-0 against teams not from Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament since 2010, however, are 0-3 against teams from their home state. Based on the record, the red birds should be flying high later this afternoon.