Miami Hurricanes Basketball Game 27 Preview: Louisville Cardinals


Location: KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Kentucky

Time: 2:00 PM


Line: Louisville -8.5

The Miami Hurricanes basketball team handed Virginia Tech a 24-point defeat on Wednesday. Miami (17-9, 7-6) travels to Kentucky on Saturday for a rematch with the #12 Louisville Cardinals (20-6, 8-5). The ‘Canes are in decent shape for a NCAA Tournament berth, but another point-to win would seriously bolster their resume. Also, Miami sits just 1 game back of Louisville in the ACC standings.

Recap of First Game

Louisville edged the Hurricanes 63-55 at the BankUnited Center back in early February. Miami played a competitive game, narrowing the deficit to 3 points late, but the Cardinals finished strong. Louisville’s backcourt did what they do: score points. Terry Rozier went for 22 points and Chris Jones contributed 16 of his own. Power forward Montrezl Harrell had 18 points and 9 rebounds, despite going down hard after a pair of collisions. Davon Reed tried his best to keep the ‘Canes in the game with a handful of 3-pointers, but Louisville was just too much to handle.

Louisville Scouting Report

Although the Cardinals find themselves in the Top-15 of both major polls, they have dropped 3 of their last 4 games since defeating the Hurricanes. It’s worth noting that those 3 losses each came to quality opponents: Virginia, NC State, and Syracuse.

Louisville has an elite defense. The Cardinals rank 7th in the country in defensive efficiency, 17th in points allowed, and 15th in steals. A lot of this is the result of an overwhelming advantage in athleticism. Louisville’s guard tandem of Chris Jones and Terry Rozier combined for 9 steals against Miami a few weeks ago.

Louisville does not shoot particularly well from the perimeter as a team, but they still manage to score in bulk. The Cardinals are at their best when they convert turnovers into fast break points. Terry Rozier scored 22 points in the initial showdown with Miami and he averages 18.0 points per game, good for 3rd in the ACC. He’s one of those combo guards that can really do it all. The 6’1” Rozier is explosive off of the dribble and shoots well from both mid range and beyond the arc.

Chris Jones, 5’10” point guard, has a similar game to Rozier. Louisville suspended Jones a few days ago, but Coach Rick Pitino just happened to reinstate him following a double-digit loss to Syracuse. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, though…Anyway, Jones had a great game against Miami in early February.

Miami once again faces the predicament of defending Montrezl Harrell. Louisville has legitimate options at the center position, so they have the luxury of playing Harrell at the four. Coach L mixed it up with Tonye Jekiri, Joe Thomas, and Ivan Cruz Uceda on Harrell. When Harrell hits his outside jumpers like he did in the first game, there really is no way to effectively guard him. Fortunately, his shots don’t always fall.

The Cardinals tend to play with very small rotations. Only 6 players saw significant minutes against Miami and only 4 players registered points. The major key here is limiting Louisville’s big three of Rozier, Jones, and Harrell. This will require maximum defensive effort from each player on the floor.


Miami: 69 – Louisville: 67

I’m picking the upset! Louisville has lost 3 of its past 4 games, while the ‘Canes have won 3 of their last 4. The Hurricanes were in the midst of a streak of dreadful offensive performances when the first Miami-Louisville matchup came around. Miami is averaging 78.3 points per game in the last three. The ‘Canes play their best basketball when Angel Rodriguez shoots efficiently, Sheldon McClellan plays aggressively, and the 3-pointers are falling.

Rodriguez has played better of late, slashing more and attempting fewer contested 3-pointers. The Hurricanes are 11-0 when McClellan shoots 50% or better from the field this season. This is largely the result of taking shots closer to the basket, opposed to the step-back jumpers. McClellan scored 6 points in 25 minutes versus Louisville the first time. Miami will need more out of him this time around. The Hurricanes probably need to hit on 8 or more 3-pointers to leave Kentucky with a victory. This will require strong performances from Davon Reed, James Palmer, and Manu Lecomte. Maybe even Cruz Uceda can get in on the action.

The Miami Hurricanes are not facing a must-win against Louisville on Saturday, but it certainly couldn’t hurt. A win at Louisville would not only benefit the Hurricanes’ pursuit of a NCAA Tournament berth, but also bring Miami to a tie with Louisville in the ACC standings.