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Why Louisville Will Win the National Championship

by Photo of Taylor Armosino

Why Louisville Will Win the National Championship

Why Louisville Will Win the National Championship

In this article…

The Final Four is tonight, with the Louisville Cardinals facing the Kentucky Wildcats and the Ohio State Buckeyes taking on the Kansas Jayhawks.  We continue to highlight why each team will be cutting down the nets, continuing with the West Region champion Louisville Cardinals.

1. Rick Pitino. He's coached in the NBA. He's one of only three active coaches to lead three different teams to the Final Four (including Calipari and Self). He led Kentucky to back to back National Championship appearances, including a victory in 1996. Rick Pitino is one of the legendary coaches in college basketball. While the other teams in the Final Four lean upon their star players, Louisville leans on Pitino. The Cardinals do not have an elite, standout player. They play great defense and team oriented basketball. Pitino has pushed all the right buttons on this amazing run. Because of their fantastic coach, Louisville has a chance to win the National Championship.

2. De-Fense! De-Fense! De-Fense! Louisville is the best defensive team in the country. During the regular season, the Cardinals led the NCAA with an adjusted defensive rating of 84 per 100 possessions. In their 4 tournament victories, Louisville is allowing an average of 57.5 points per game. They've smothered their opponents perimeter shooting as well. Louisville's four opponents have shot 26.5% from beyond the arc. Florida was the only team in the tournament to shoot better than 40% against Louisville. Gorgui Dieng has been the defensive stopper for the Cardinals. His shot blocking and rebounding has given Louisville and elite force down low. Speaking of Dieng...

3. Gorgui Dieng's shot blocking. At 6'11, 235 pounds, Gorgui Dieng is a big force down low for the Cardinals. He has been excellent in neutralizing opponents shots at the rim. On the season, Dieng averaged 3.2 blocks per game (bpg). For the tournament, Dieng is averaging 3.5 bpg. His highlight performance was against number one seeded Michigan State. Against Draymond Green and the Spartans, Dieng recorded an astounding 7 blocked shots. His effort completely disrupted the Michigan State offense as the Spartans shot just 28% in the game. Against Kentucky on Saturday, Dieng gives Louisville a chance to slow down Wildcat stars Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd Gilchrist at the rim. 

4. They're on fire right now. Just like UCONN last season, Louisville has ridden the momentum of a Big East Tournament victory en route to the Final Four. Unlike the other three teams in the Final Four, Louisville didn't lose their tournament championship game. They held Cincinnati to 44 points and haven't looked back. Louisville hasn't been rolling through opponents, but they've been dominant defensively and have scrapped together enough offense to win games. They don't have a Kemba Walker type elite player, but that makes Louisville scarier. Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Chane Behanan and Kyle Kuric all have the potential to get hot in a game. Because teams don't have to key in on a single scorer, Louisville boasts the ability to attack from different angles offensively. In their four tournament wins, they've had 4 different players score in double figures. While they're a defensive minded team, Louisville has shown the ability to win games offensively as well. Against Florida, the Cardinals were forced to win a high scoring shootout and they did it. They're tested and they're hot. They're a dangerous team to win this tournament. 

5. Russ Smith. The Cardinals' reserve guard gives them a great spark coming off the bench. Smith is a notoriously streaky shooter, but in the tournament he has shot the ball incredibly well. In the last three games, Smith has scored 47 points and hit 6/9 from downtown. If Smith gets hot from behind the arc, Louisville has a chance to beat any team in the country. Their one glaring weakness is their low 3 point shooting percentage, but Smith has shot very well in the tournament. When hot, Smith can spread the floor which opens up the paint for Peyton Siva and Chane Behanan. The Cardinals will look to slow Saturday's game down defensively, but given the event that the game becomes a shootout, Russ Smith will give them a chance to win. 

Let CHARGED.fm get you tickets to the NCAA Tournament Final Four in New Orleans, LA.


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