Boston College (9-6, 0-3 ACC) staggers into the KFC Yum! Center (yikes on that name) for a matchup with a very tough Louisville (11-5, 2-1). The Cardinals might have 5 losses, but 4 of those are to Top-25 teams and the other is a surging Pittsburgh. The Pitino scandal was a speed bump here, if anything.
Keys to the Game
The Eagles are going to have to play a virtually perfect game. The Eagles will be without star freshman Wynston Tabbs (though they get back Steffon Mitchell), so Ky Bowman will have to be incredibly efficient as a ball handler. Limit turnovers and 60% from the floor is a Herculean task, but winning in Louisville is going to be hard.
Popovic will also likely need a big game on the inside, which is going to be difficult against a Louisville team that is so tall. I’d also love to see Jairus Hamilton show off some of his sexy post moves inside the paint, because quite frankly using him as a wing seems like a waste, especially for a team that lacks size outside the center position.
Finally, offball movement. After the IUPUI game the Eagles showed a lot more movement on offball screens to get shooters open or to find guys cutting to the basket. That has stalled a bit recently, and the results are evident.
Size and depth. First thing’s first: damn they are big. The Cardinals have two capable centers at 6’10”+ in Steven Enoch and Malik Williams, who average nearly 2.5 blocks per game together. Leading scorer Jordan Nwora adds a measly 6’8” to that size.
And they are so deep. They have 9 players contributing 15 minutes per game or more, so they rarely get gassed on the court. Each player knows his role and plays it well, whether its rebounding or facilitating.
Cardinal Player To Watch
Logic says that Nwora (39% three point shooter, 6’8” height, can score in a variety of ways) is the guy to fear, but I’ll say that I’m still traumatized by Matt Ferrell exploding against BC a few years back. So I’m going to go with Senior G #1 Christian Cunningham. The Grad transfer averages just 10 ppg, but he’s shooting over 45% on threes for the year (granted on limited attempts). The Eagles continue to have issues rotating, but have been better at closing out shooters, giving mixed results on three point defense. They’ve also gotten lucky (and unlucky…), so let’s see how this goes.
Food of the Game
Definitely not KFC or Papa Johns.
Matt: Doubtful. 72-68 Cards
Toppin: 77-65 L’ooville. I don’t see this happening. Pitt beat Louisville by holding them to 25% from deep, forcing 18(!) turnovers, and Nwora went 2-14 from the field. That’s probably not gonna happen again.
Follow Us on Twitter for In-game Coverage
Follow @bcinterruption and our men’s basketball writers at @choppintoppin, @mattoneil55, @yourfriendktb, and @EJHoffses.