Louisville Men's Basketball 2014 NCAA Tournament Capsule

Louisville Cardinals
American (29-5, 15-3)


After defeating Michigan to win the 2013 NCAA championship, the Louisville Cardinals entered this season as the odds-on favorites to win the newly instituted American Athletic Conference. Early season losses to out-of-conference foes like North Carolina and Kentucky put a damper on any hopes for a one-seed come tournament time. However, the Cardinals still battled through a nice season in a conference that turned out to be better and a bit deeper than people were expecting coming in. Even without the leadership of departed stars like Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng, Louisville took care of business.

Big Wins: 1/18 at Connecticut (76-64), 2/22 at Cincinnati (58-57), 3/8 Connecticut (81-48)
Bad Losses: 11/24 vs North Carolina (84-93), 1/9 Memphis (67-73), 1/30 Cincinnati (66-69)
Coach: Rick Pitino (13 seasons at Louisville)

Why They Can Surprise:
Louisville has made a habit of blowing people out this season. While losses have come and the Cardinals are no better against elite opponents than anyone else is, they have shown the ability and desire to squash weaker foes by large sums. Because of this, Louisville has one of the best scoring differentials in the nation. They also rank in the top 20 in both scoring offense and scoring defense, which is a remarkable accomplishment. The well-rounded nature of this team is thanks to their turnover margin. While they curb their own turnovers pretty well, they also force turnovers and grab steals at an elite level, unmatched across much of the country. Chris Jones is the best on the team, but there are a number of Cardinal players who have actually collected more steals than turnovers. The pressure nature of Rick Pitino's club, combined with the scoring prowess of players like Russ Smith and Montrezl Harrell, make Louisville one of the scary matchups come tournament time. They are especially formidable if forward Wayne Blackshear is able to get back into the swing of things. Blackshear is one of the better offensive weapons on this club when healthy.

Why They Can Disappoint:
Along with injury departures of Blackshear on occasion and Kevin Ware for the remainder of the season, Louisville has also had to deal with the dismissal of forward Chane Behanan. Behanan was an instrumental part of each of the last two seasons for Louisville yet was dismissed in 2013-14 for undisclosed violations of university policy. With a full roster, there may still be no team better than the Cardinals, but now we know Louisville will not be at full strength at any point this year. The other characteristic of this team that should worry fans is the uneasiness and unpredictability of its best player, Russ Smith. While Smith is a wizard with the basketball, he takes bad shots and routinely gets in Pitino's dog house. The Cardinals are also a horrendous free-throw shooting team, making closing out close games a chore.

Probable Starters:
Russ Smith, Senior, Guard, 18.3 ppg, 4.7 apg, 2.1 spg
Chris Jones, Junior, Guard, 10.3 ppg, 3.1 apg, 2.3 spg
Luke Hancock, Senior, Forward, 11.7 ppg, 2.7 rpg
Montrezl Harrell, Sophomore, Forward, 14.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1.3 bpg
Stephan Van Treese, Senior, Forward, 2.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg

Key Roleplayers:
Wayne Blackshear, Junior, Forward, 8.5 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Terry Rozier, Freshman, Guard, 7.5 ppg, 1.9 apg
Mangok Mathiang, Freshman, Center, 3.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 1.4 bpg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 81.8 (11th in nation, 1st in conference)
Scoring Defense: 61.7 (17, 2)
Field-Goal Percentage: 47.5 (27, 3)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.7 (25, 4)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.1 (30, 1)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 37.4 (59, 2)
Free-Throw Percentage: 65.4 (315, 9)
Rebound Margin: 2.7 (105, 5)
Assists Per Game: 15.6 (24, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.5 (29, 1)

Recent Postseason Appearances:
2013    NCAA    Second Round win over North Carolina A&T
2013    NCAA    Third Round win over Colorado State
2013    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Oregon
2013    NCAA    Regional Final win over Duke
2013    NCAA    National Semifinal win over Wichita State
2013    NCAA    National Final win over Michigan
2012    NCAA    Second Round win over Davidson
2012    NCAA    Third Round win over New Mexico
2012    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Michigan State
2012    NCAA    Regional Final win over Florida
2012    NCAA    National Semifinal loss to Kentucky
2011    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Morehead State
2010    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to California
2009    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Morehead State
2009    NCAA    Round of 32 win over Siena
2009    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Arizona
2009    NCAA    Regional final loss to Michigan State
2008    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Boise State
2008    NCAA    Round of 32 win over Oklahoma
2008    NCAA    Regional Semifinal win over Tennessee
2008    NCAA    Regional Final loss to Kansas
2007    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Stanford
2007    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Texas A&M

*all team stats through 3/9


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules