Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cup O' Jones : Irish Gameday

Sorry about the lack of pics and Starting 5. I lost power and am writing this on the Blackberry. Somehow Louisville turned into a haven for bad weather in the last 6 months.

OK, I'm starting to get a little scared about this game with the Irish tonight. Not because I don't think the Cards have the better team, but the fact that all signs point to a Irish victory. Notre Dame is not a team that should lose 8 in a row. They still have the same Top-5 talent that they did earlier in the year and one of the best players in the country in Luke Harangody. On the other side, Louisville has two of their top players banged up - Samuels with his dental problems and T-Will with a nagging wrist injury. Also, even though they got the win, the Cards looked sloppy on Sunday against St. John's. If they play the same tonight, the Irish could snap their streak.

Another thing that scares me is Vegas . The spread is only the Cards by 3. That is a rather small spread for a Final 4 contender over a team on a 7-game losing-streak - even if it is on the road. As I'm sure most of you know, Vegas is correct a vast majority of the time, however the insiders could be just as baffled about the way Notre Dame is playing as the rest of the nation. I still went with my heart and bet on Louisville in my Pick of the Night on the Freak Show. I think everyone (including myself) is looking way too far into this. ND had their shot at a top-10 team last weekend to redeem themselves and got absolutely pummeled by UCLA.

Frankengody is going to get his 25 and 15, but the place where Louisville will separate themselves is depth. Like I said yesterday, Mike Brey's squad has little-to-no depth. The Cards will surely try to exploit that by pressing as much as possible and tiring out PG Torey Jackson and G Kyle McAlarney. Both are great players with the ability to go-off at any time, but once the fatigue sets in Louisville will have their chance to pounce. I wouldn't be surprised if the Cards pull their patented keep-the-game-close-then-pull-away-at-the-end tonight.

The Cards had only 9 turnovers in the last game against Notre Dame. Being on the road, that number could possibly increase, but due to their lack-of-depth, the Irish don't pressure the ball full-court very often. If Louisville doesn't have too many unforced errors they should keep the number of TO's around the single digits. There is always the possibility the Bizarro Edgar or Earl shows up though.

All in all, this game is going to be a doozie regardless of how large of a slump the Irish are in. Never discount a team with their backs against the wall like the Irish right now. A loss could put them out of the tourney. A win could bust the Irish back in and possibly catapult them to a stellar finish. The Cards are ready to prove they have improved since the last match-up and exposed the Irish during the 16-point beatdown in OT. The Irish haven't been the same since and - with the exception of the hiccup against UCONN - the Cards have continued to roll. Cards win by pulling away late 83-70.

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