The 50th Meeting Between the Cards & Cats


We are just a few weeks removed from the Cats and Cards doing battle on the gridiron to end the regular season of college football. On Wednesday night they will take the battle to the basketball court. This week we have flown our flags a little higher and wore our gear with that little extra boost of pride. This is the Cards and the Cats and it just doesn’t get any bigger in college basketball.

“Two elite teams meet once again, eternal bragging rights (at least for another year) Hall of Fame coaches who can’t stand each other. It’s not always a pretty watch, but it’s compelling TV and the best soap opera in the sport at the moment.” -Sports Illustrated

It is the eve of one of the best rivalries in college sports… If you grew up in the state of Kentucky then you chose your side very early in your life. I was singing the Louisville fight song to my son on the night he was born. I picked a side 30 years ago and have never regretted my decision. I love my Cardinals and I love this rivalry. Rivalries are what define sports and every competition needs a great rivalry. We have one of the best rivalries in all of sports and it deserves the credit. The Rivalry has given us many enjoyable moments and now it’s time to have another.

This will again be a highly anticipated Battle of the Bluegrass with both teams ranked within the top 10. It has been the Cats who have won the last 8 out of 10 in this battle head-to-head including 4 straight, but when looking at their entire body of work these teams have had similar success in the last 30 years. A series that started in 1913 these old rivals will meet for the 50th time on Wednesday night. Kentucky holds the all-time lead in this series 34-15.

NCAA Final Fours

Kentucky – 17 (Tied 2nd all-time)

Louisville – 10 (Tied 6th all-time)

NCAA Tournament Championships

Kentucky – 8 (2nd all-time)

Louisville – 3 (Tied 7th all-time)

NCAA Tournament Appearances

Kentucky – 54 (1st all-time)

Louisville – 41 (5th all-time)

Kentucky beat North Carolina 103-100 in Las Vegas in its last game as Malik Monk scored a UK freshman record 47 points and De’Andre Fox totaled 24 points and 10 assists. The Wildcats are among the top five nationally in scoring (3rd in the nation, 95.2 ppg), assists (4th, 19.9 apg), scoring margin (4th, +23.5), offensive rebounds (5th, 15.7 per game), and blocked shots (5th, 7.1 bpg). Fox is eighth in the nation averaging 7.2 assists. Fox and Bam Adebayo were preseason All-SEC first team selections, while Monk and Isaiah Briscoe were second team All-SEC preseason picks. Kentucky is No. 9 in the RPI, No. 4 in the Sagaring Ratings and No. 4 by Ken Pomeroy through Dec. 18.

Louisville leads the nation in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency through Dec. 18. The Cardinals are fifth in the nation in field goal percentage defense (.359), 11th in scoring defense (59.4 ppg), fourth in blocked shots (7.2 per game), 22nd in three-point field goal defense (.287), 24th in turnover margin (+4.6), 11th in rebound margin (+9.3), fifth in rebounds per game (45.0), third in offensive rebounds per game (16.1) and 15th in scoring margin (+19.1). Six of the Cardinals 11 opponents this season have scored under 60 points. Eight of Louisville’s 11 opponents this season have shot below 36 percent from the field and four have shot below 32 percent. Eastern Kentucky shot 35.6 percent in UofL’s last game when the Cardinals limited the Colonels to 16 first-half points. It was the third time UofL has held a team under 20 points in a half this season.

This game as most of them have in the Pitino/Calipari era will come down to good offense vs good defense… The best way to beat Kentucky this season is to play great lock-down defense against their back-court and not let Fox have his way in the lane and not let Monk have many open looks from deep. The Louisville guards also need to brace up in the face of the Wildcats’ defensive harassment. Kentucky still has a lot of length and talent in their front-court but unlike previous seasons this Louisville team has plenty of talent and height of their own to challenge them here. According to Kenpom’s advance analytics the Cards are #9 in effective height and #19 in average height. The cats are #16 in effective height and #59 in average height.

The Cardinals X-factors on Wednesday night will be the front-court players. If Anas, Mango, Johnson and Spalding can play great defense and grab those offensive/defensive rebounds I really like our chances. They have to neutralize the Kentucky bigs. I also think our bench scoring will come into play in this one. There are always a lot of fouls called in these games. The Cardinals have 327 bench points already this season. Per Kenpom Louisville is ranked 54th in bench minutes. I’ve heard them mock David Levitch and Ryan McMahon… but so did the experts before Tim “Wichita” Henderson led the Cardinals to the Championship game in 2013.

This will be one of the biggest tests of the year for both of these teams. Each has to play to their strengths and attack the others weakness, but as I mentioned above with the player always coming out of nowhere there will be a scenario play out that nobody expected. These rivalry games are packed with emotion and that along with the home crowd will also factor in. I’m looking forward to a great game and an opportunity to knock off this Kentucky group. It has been too long. Should be another great one in the series… Go Cards!

Louisville Baseball Hottest Ticket In Town

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Louisville baseball dates back to 1909. There is no rich history and contending for conference Titles and fifth place finishes was the norm for 96 years. The program was decent but lacked the consistency to be on the other level. That all changed when Dan McDonnell took over as coach in 2007. Now hosting NCAA Regionals are the norm. The Cardinals will host their fourth straight NCAA Regional on Friday night.

Scanning the radio shows this week and the flavor was much the same. It wasn’t basketball or football conversations that dominated the airwaves. Cardinal Nation is all a buzz for Louisville Baseball. Not only are folks excited to get out and watch this team play on Friday night they are also looking forward to showing Coach Dan McDonnell some love for signing his new 10 year contract.

The Cardinals are coming into this tournament as the #2 seed in the country. Expectations are at an all-time high. This team has a roster oozing with Major League potential and seems to be peaking at the right time. With a great defense and an offense manufacturing runs at will this Louisville team will be hard to beat.

We often talk about how far the football program has come up over the years but I think one could argue that there hasn’t been a bigger rise from the ashes story than with the baseball program. If you are hoping to watch the Cardinals play tonight but don’t have tickets good luck. The Louisville session is sold out and there aren’t even any seats to be had on the secondary sites. The Cardinal Nine and Coach Dan McDonnell are the hottest ticket in town.

More on this years team and the NCAA Tournament from GoCards.com

The Battle for the Bourbon Barrel

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The Cardinals and Commodores played their last game against each other last May. It was Vandy that came out with the hot bats in that game taking an early 5 run lead before a little rally in the 6th by Louisville. It was Vandy who walked away with the win in that game 5-2. Before that these teams had last played in Omaha back in 2014 where Vandy eventually went on to win their first National Championship. That is a grand trophy indeed, but when it comes to the Louisville Vs Vanderbilt series there is another trophy that is one of the coolest in all of college baseball “The Barrel”

The Cardinals and the Commodores are far from strangers to one another. In fact this has become one of the most competitive rivalries in college baseball. The programs, separated by only 175 miles, became regular foes in the NCAA Regionals (4 times in last 7 seasons) due to the close proximity. From that “The Battle of the Barrel” game was born in 2012. What started as a typical midweek game has evolved into something much larger a true rivalry.

Louisville is just 7-24 all-time against Vanderbilt in a series that dates back to 1971, and our Cardinals have come out on the losing end lately dropping the last two. The Cards do hold a current 3 game win streak in Nashville. Today at 5:00pm this great college baseball rivalry will again take center stage its “The Battle of the Barrel”. Be sure to tune in to see who walks away with this super masculine emblem of greatness. Go Cards!

The game, originally slated for 7 p.m., but adjusted due to the threat of inclement weather, will be televised on ESPNU. Radio coverage of the game will begin on 1450 WXVW and transition to 93.9 The Ville at 6 p.m. Live stats for all Louisville baseball games are available at GoCards.com.

Louisville Basketball Officially Signs Two More “Louisville Men”

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Both Frankie Hughes and VJ King have signed their paper work and are officially part of the Cardinal Nation. These two young men have yet to make a basket or win a game in a Louisville uniform but both have quickly become fan favorites.

Amidst the recent scandal that rocked the Louisville basketball program Frankie Hughes came out of nowhere to pledge his loyalty to Coach Pitino and the Cardinals. Hughes said after his commitment to Louisville “its two sides to every story. I want to go to Louisville and play for Coach Pitino and I believe in Coach Pitino.’” “I told him (Pitino) that I had his back,” Hughes said. “I said, ‘I’m a loyal guy, I’ll stay loyal to you.’” The commitment by this young man was very encouraging and come at a time when most were questioning if Coach Pitino would have any problems on the recruiting trail.

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VJ King has been committed to Coach Pitino and the Cardinals since back in June, but with the recent dark cloud over the basketball program some have worried about King who is one of the top players in the country in the class of 2016. Tonight VJ put those worries to rest saying in the below tweet tonight that “People may have questioned, but I never wavered. I believe in the Louisville family!” Again this is a very positive sign moving forward and will no doubt have an impact as coach Pitino moves forward in his recruiting efforts of 2016 and beyond.

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In successful programs like the University of Louisville tradition never graduates. The program is rich and vibrant because many great young men have come in and cared enough to give their very best. Many chapters have yet to be written, and there is not a doubt in my mind that Frankie and VJ are going to add to that outstanding tradition. These two young men have already proved their loyalty and in today’s world that means a whole lot. Welcome to the Cardinal Family guys and thank you for wanting to be a part of something special. Go Cards!

Some Thoughts after the First Basketball Exhibition and on Season Ahead

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Today the first AP Poll was released and for the first time since 2010 it didn’t include our Louisville Cardinals. Usually I would let that dig into me a little but this year I get it. We have been on one helluva run and it’s been great, but there comes a time in every basketball program when you are going to have to do a little rebuilding. That time is upon us in Louisville. We have a team full of sophomores and freshman, two fifth year transfers that are new to the surroundings, and an experienced junior.

There is still a lot of mystery as to how this group will come together and evolve over the next five months but I’m very optimistic that we could potentially have a decent run. This appears to be a very close group, we have some great size, length, athleticism and these guys are very versatile. We also have a very good freshmen class that will be able to make a solid contribution this season. I also think Coach Pitino may be as motivated as he’s ever been to get this group to reach their full potential.

You can’t really read that much into the first exhibition game of the season but these guys are going to be fun to watch. On the defensive side of the ball this group is going to give opponents fits this year. Deflections, Defensive rebounding, hustle and shot blocking are abundant. They pretty much limited Bellarmine to one shot and out for the entire game. They didn’t really ever allow them to have a clean look. On the offensive end of the court this group has size and skill everywhere. They all hit the offensive glass, all can play out on the perimeter and all of these guys are very good passers. I think you’ll see a lot of activity and movement this year. Get ready for the pick and roll and the give and go.

As far as players:

I was the most impressed with Jaylen Johnson. He is a guy that really didn’t show me much during the Puerto Rico trip but on Sunday looked like a man on a mission. I do think he has made the most progress from seeing him this summer. The kid has cut his weight and body fat and that has resulted in a faster more versatile player on the floor. He was much more active around the basket and has developed into a player that can score facing the basket or with his back to the basket. And he can create his own scoring opportunities. If he continues down this improvement path he will be a beast this season.

I’ve always been a big Quentin Snider fan, and he made his impact felt immediately on Sunday when he hit the floor. His ability to run smooth offensive sets is unmatched by any guard on the team. The offense started off shaky but he was able to get them into a good rhythm by finding open guys for open shots. The kid is a silent general on the basketball court. That experience he had in the Tourney last year has carried over and he is going to be big for us. He led the team with 8 assist.

Damion Lee will be the foundation of this group off of the court and he will keep them focused on their task ahead, and he is another smooth operator when he gets on the floor. He is a very good ball handler that has the ability to blow past his guy on the perimeter or to stop and pop on a dime for the bucket. He can also get hit the three point shot with consistency. I think he will give us our most consistent three point threat we’ve had in a while.

Trey Lewis is another guy much like Quentin Snider who has that great court awareness and can find the open man. He threaded the needle many times on Sunday. He is also a great stop and pop shooter who really doesn’t have to have his set shot for it to go down with consistency. Once he fully feels at home he will be a solid floor general for this group.

The guy who will keep this team loose and not taking themselves too seriously is Mango. A long with that he will also be a big part of everything the team does on the offensive and defensive side of the floor. When he played in the World Games this summer he rebounded the ball very well. That has carried over and he has rebounded well both on the Puerto Rico trip, the scrimmages and led the team with 10 boards on Sunday. Mango has improved every year and this season will be big for him.

Not impressed with his granny shot at the free-throw line but Nanu Onuaku can shoot them any way he likes if he continues to defend the basket like he did on Sunday. He led the team with 2 blocked shots and two steals and was very active. He was also very active around the basket on the offensive side of the ball. He is another very important part of this team. I think he’ll have a big season with hopes of getting to the next level after it’s over.

Guys typically see their biggest jump from their freshman to sophomore years under a Coach Pitino system. That is really evident in Matz Stockman and Anas Mahmoud. These guys are more confident and have also transformed themselves physically. Anas showed off his athleticism and ability to make big plays again on Sunday. Matz attempted a dunk from the free-throw line over three Bellarmine players. Talk about confidence. Looking forward to seeing these guys continue to improve and I think they’ll help out a lot this season.

I really like our entire freshman class and think that Deng Adel along with Ray Spalding and Donovan Mitchell will end up getting a lot minutes this season. Donovan was the third leading scorer with 9 points Sunday, and really has improved his jump shot. He hit two back to back threes. Deng Adel is a match-up nightmare and can score in a lot of ways. He had 7 points and can come at you off of the dribble or take it to the rack with power. I’m going to call him Ray “skyscraper’ Spalding. He has an unbelievable wing span and showed off his shot blocking ability with a big time slap away on Sunday. Very excited to see how these young fellas evolve over the season.

We might not contend for a title and I’m not ready to even think about that at this point. I do think this group could be top 10ish and make a deep tourney run. We have one of the tallest and athletic teams in school history it just all has to come together. I know I’m really excited and ready for the season to start. GO CARDS!

Here are some photos and video from the first exhibition:

Bellarmine Exhibition







No More Moral Victories, Cards Need a Morale Victory

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I’ve had a few days to think about the Louisville football season and to ponder the 0-3 start. Watching the other college football games over the weekend I can say with extreme confidence that there are a lot of schools who would have started the season 0-3 with Louisville’s schedule. But I digress… Even though our Cardinals are 0-3 we have had moments against both Auburn and Clemson that could be considered somewhat of a moral victory and things that the team could actually build upon.

The Cardinals total margin of defeat in the past three games is 13 points and that is lower than any three game losing streaks in school history. We have not been blown out and have been in every game with a chance to win. We’ve got an exceptional group of freshman and they are the foundation of what will eventually be a good football team. The freshmen have accounted for over 60% of total yardage for this team up to this point in the season. Freshmen WR Jaylen Smith (11 Rec, 171 yards), TE Micky Crum (12 Rec, 158 yards, 1 TD), WR Traveon Samuel (12 Rec, 118 yards), and WR Devonte Peete (5 Rec, 101 yards) are all ranked in the top 40 of receiving leaders in the ACC. Smith #12, Crum #15, Samuel #27 and Peete #33. Freshman QB Lamar Jackson is #10 in the ACC in total offensive plays with 130 rushing yards and 283 passing yards.

On Saturday the Cardinals will play the Samford Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are a very good FCS football program and this will provide the Cardinals the opportunity to get an important Morale victory. This Samford football team will be no push over. They are very well coached by a familiar face. Chris Hatcher comes to Samford after serving as the head coach at Murray State University since 2010. In five seasons as the head coach of the Racers, his teams employed a high-powered “Hatch Attack” offense to top the Division I-FCS football charts. In 2014, the Racers ranked second in the nation in passing offense, averaging 327.2 yards per game. The team also ranked 15th in total offense at 468.3 yards per contest. Hatcher boasts a career record of 121-57 in 15 years as a college head coach at Murray State, Georgia Southern and Valdosta State.

Leading the Samford offense is QB Michael Eubank who is completing 68.6 percent of his passes for 907 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions. We may also see QB Devlin Hodges. He and Eubank have combined for combined for 1,054 passing yards this season. They have three very solid players in their wide receiving corps. WR’s Karel Hamilton and Emmanuel Obajimi have combined for 438 receiving yards and two touchdowns. WR Kelvin McKnight has 11 receptions on the season. Leading their rushing attack is Junior Denzel Williams who has 219 yards and two touchdowns on the season. They are averaging 182 yards on the ground per game this season. The Bulldogs have scored over 40 points in two of its first three games and are averaging 45 points. Defensively, Samford is allowing 22.7 points and 438 yards per game. The stud of their defense is SR Line Backer Justin Cooper who leads the Bulldogs with 25 tackles. Leading their defensive front is Jared Holloway who has two sacks on the season and leading their secondary is James Bradberry with four pass deflections.

I do expect Coach Grantham’s defense to win the day here. Shadowed by the fact that they have played some very good teams with some very good athletes at the skill positions is that this Louisville defense has the chance to be really good. They have a lot of new parts that have had to come together and some players that had to find their football feet again but it’s coming along. Defensively, Louisville is allowing 28.3 points and 396.7 yards per game. The obvious issue for this defense is getting off of the field on 3rd downs. They have allowed 20 third down conversions this season allowing teams to convert 44% of the time. I think this is a big part of those growing pains. There are a lot of moving parts and a lot of communication gaps that still need time to gel.

This Cardinal defense does have the top tackling duo in the ACC. Keith Kelsey and Josh Harvey-Clemons both have 33 tackles on the season and that is good for #1 in the ACC and #12 in the nation. Clemons is 2nd in the ACC and 16th in the country in interceptions with two on the season. And he is just getting started folks. This Cardinals defense also boast several other players in the top 25 of tacklers in the ACC. #6 James Burgess with 26, #11 Sheldon Rankins with 23, #18 Keith Brown with 18, and #22 Devonte’ Fields with 17. Fields is getting more and more back to his old self every week, and I expect full beast mode by the middle of the season. This Louisville defense is just like a pot of chili, and the more it cooks the better it will get.

The Louisville offense is ranked in the bottom or near the bottom of every category, and it can all be directly related some way or another to poor production on the offensive front. We all knew that it could be bad but didn’t expect it to be this bad. The rushing game is one of the worst in the country through three games and the Louisville QBs are running for their lives. I still have faith that Coach Klenakis will get this issue resolved. He has proven time and time again that he can develop talent. The guy has coached 21 offensive linemen who have advanced to the NFL. Before coming to Louisville Klenakis was at Iowa State and in 2013 he had six different starters miss at least one game. He was forced to use nine different combinations that season. They ended up having two consecutive 500 yard games of total offense and the Cyclones finished the season with the 10th most points in school history. He has built offensive fronts at every coaching stop in his career and he will figure this out.

It has been a youth movement for this Louisville offense. It looks like Lamar Jackson may take back the QB duties on Saturday and there is no doubt that Jaylen Smith and Micky Crum who have combined for 329 receiving yards and one touchdown along with Traveon Samuel who has 12 receptions will continue to play an important role. We may get to see James Quick return to the line-up as well. In order to get things really moving for this group we have to get some production in the running game. Brandon Radcliff has done his best with little or no help from that offensive line and leads the way with 164 yards and two touchdowns. The Cardinals Rank 14th in the ACC and 115th in the country in rushing offense averaging a whopping 3.2 yards a carry, 109 yards a game and 6 touchdowns. I still have high expectations out of this group and Coach Petrino is one of the best offensive minds in the game.

As I said in my opening the Cardinals have played a very tough schedule, and one that has kept them winless through the first three weeks of the college football season. We have had some moral victories, but on Saturday I do believe that both the defense and offense will get a much needed Morale boost from this game. They are playing a team that they should beat but it will still take a good effort from both units to get the win. This game couldn’t have come at a better time for our Cardinals. This season will be defined by how this group overcomes adversity and this weekend will be the start of positive things ahead.

The Beak Prediction:
Louisville 44 Samford 9

Cardinals land 5 Star VJ King

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Coach Pitino and his staff have started their 2016 recruiting class off with a bang landing the #2 SF in the country today VJ King. King who is ranked #16 by 247Sports, #18 by Scout, #11 by Rivals and #25 by ESPN picked the Cardinals over UCONN and UK. Louisville assistant Kenny Johnson is a former assistant at King’s high school and this is thought to have played a big role in his decision.

I had a chance to check out King first hand at EYBL in Lexington this spring. He is a very nice player and was making some very nice plays. He has a great looking jump shot and can handle the ball very well for his size. His skill set makes him very hard to guard.

Talk about a stat stuffer in the Friday session I watched he had 22 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. He is also a very crafty defender. During the second session on Saturday night Coach Balado and Coach Padgett were there scouting out King for Louisville. King had another very impressive performance again at this session scoring 18 points while showcasing his multidimensional game. He has growing to do and will need to add some bulk to his frame. Once he does watch out. This kid is an elite player and I’m glad the Cardinals staff spent so much time on this kid. He’s going to be an immediate impact guy.

ESPN:

Strengths:
King is a long athletic and skilled wing with a very smooth game. He can handle, pass and shoot with accuracy from a variety of areas on the floor. He excels on the break by running the floor and making acrobatic moves around the rim. He uses his length well to shoot deep jumpers over smaller defenders with ease. King has the ability to get into a groove and hit two or three jumpers in a row. He has the length and athletic ability to be a capable multiple position defender as well.
Weaknesses:
King will need to add strength and work to improve his shot selection at times. He also will need to work on beating his defender off the dribble when pressured and not have his mind made up to shoot the jumper regardless of what the defender does. King could also improve as a rebounder and finisher in traffic all which he is more than capable.
Bottom Line:
King is a very athletic and skilled wing that has all the tools to be a special player he will need to continue to hone his skills and build his game and productive in other phases of the game. King’s calling card is his ability to score with his jump shot. King has incredible upside.

The Battle of the Barrel

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The last time the Cardinals and Commodores met was in the opening round of the 2014 College World Series. It was Vandy who walked away with the win in that game 5-3 and eventually went on to win their first National Championship. That is a grand trophy indeed, but when it comes to the Louisville Vs Vanderbilt series there is another trophy that is one of the coolest in all of college baseball “The Barrel”

The Cardinals and the Commodores are far from strangers to one another. In fact this has become one of the most competitive rivalries in college baseball. The programs, separated by only 175 miles, became regular foes in the NCAA Regionals due to the close proximity. From that “The Battle of the Barrel” game was born in 2012. What started as a typical midweek game has evolved into something much larger a true rivalry.

Louisville is just 7-23 all-time against Vanderbilt in a series that dates back to 1953, but our Cardinals have come out on the winning end lately and currently hold a three to one edge against them in recent contest. The Cards swept them in 2 games in the 2013 Regionals and won the “Battle of the Barrel” game back last May. They lost their match-up in the CWS and it was the 4th time the programs have met in the postseason in the last five seasons.

Today at 6:00pm this great new college baseball rivalry will again take center stage its “The Battle of the Barrel”. Be sure to tune in to see who walks away with this super masculine emblem of greatness. Go Cards!

You can hear the game on FM 93.9 The Ville or tune into ESPN3.

Future Cards Will Headline Derby Festival Classic

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The rosters for the annual spring basketball classic were reveled today and as expected 2015 signees Raymond Spalding, Donovan Mitchell, Deng Adel and commit Ryan McMahon will play in the event.

These guys form a recruiting class ranked in the top 5 nationally and the Cardinals coaching staff were ahead of the curve in identifying and landing four of the biggest stock risers in the class of 2015. In the ESPN rankings Deng Adel went from No. 81 to No. 30, Donovan Mitchell rose from No. 72 to No. 37, and Raymond Spalding, a local kid was identified by the Cardinals’ staff early in the process, before he went from unranked to No. 52. Recent commit Ryan McMahon is the lesser known of this group but he also came out of nowhere to garner attention for his long-range shooting. He is ranked the No. 42 shooting guard nationally by ESPN.com.

Cardinals fans will get a glimpse of the future at the Derby Festival Classic, to be played 7 p.m. April 11 at Freedom Hall. Tickets are available for $13, $18 and $50 through Ticketmaster.com or at the Freedom Hall Box Office.

Here are the rosters for each team. All of the Louisville guys will play on the white team.

Team 1
-Jalen Adams G 6-2 UConn
-Deng Adel F 6-7 Louisville
-Daniel Giddens C 6-10 Ohio State
-Austin Grandstaff G 6-5 Ohio State
-Dedric Lawson F 6-8 Memphis
-KJ Lawson F 6-7 Memphis
-Ryan McMahon G 6-0 Louisville
-Donovan Mitchell G 6-3 Louisville
-Matt Ryan F 6-8 Notre Dame
-Justin Simon G 6-5 Arizona
-Ray Spalding F 6-9 Louisville

Team 2
-Prince Ali G 6-3 UCLA
-OG Anunoby F 6-7 Indiana
-Thomas Bryant C 6-10 Undecided
-Bryant Crawford G 6-2 Wake Forest
-Jawun Evans G 6-0 Oklahoma State
-Brandon Ingram G 6-8 Undecided
-Juwan Morgan F 6-7 Indiana
-Justin Patton C 6-10 Creighton
-Danjel Purifoy F 6-6 Auburn
-Brandon Sampson G 6-4 St. John’s

First held in 1973, the Classic is the oldest high school all-star game in the nation and is known for showcasing players who’ve moved on to stardom at the collegiate and professional levels. Former players include Jamal Mashburn, Moses Malone, Rex Chapman, Pervis Ellison, Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, Darrell Griffith, Derek Anderson, Anfernee Hardaway and Michael Beasley.

Grab a ticket and get out to this event next month to support the Cards…

The Beak Basketball Breakdown: The Wildcats

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We are just a few weeks removed from the Cats and Cards doing battle on the gridiron to end the regular season of college football. On Saturday they will take the battle to the basketball court.
This week we have flown our flags a little higher and wore our gear with that little extra boost of pride. This is the Cards and the Cats and it just doesn’t get any bigger in college basketball.

This will be the most anticipated Battle of the Bluegrass in years as it’s the first time ever these teams have played while both being undefeated. It has been the Cats who have won the last 9 out of eleven in this battle head-to-head, but when looking at their entire body of work these teams have had similar success in the last 30 years. A series that started in 1913 these old rivals will meet for the 48th time on Saturday afternoon. Kentucky holds the all-time lead in this series 32-15.

This game was named the #1 OOC game by Sports Illustrated. Here’s what they said:

“Two elite teams meet once again, eternal bragging rights (at least for another year), HoF coaches who can’t stand each other. It’s not always a pretty watch, but it’s compelling TV and the best soap opera in the sport at the moment.”

The Cardinals will be facing one of the best Kentucky teams they’ve ever played. They are only one of two teams in the history of college basketball to feature 9 McDonald’s All-Americans and could end up being one of the best defensive teams rivaling the 2011-2012 Cats. This UK squad has been stopping and blocking every team that’s been put before them this season. They are currently 1st in the country averaging 9 blocks per game and 2nd in the nation in points allowed at a 47.7 average per game.

Kentucky is led in scoring by Aaron Harrison (10.6PPG), Willie Cauley-Stein (10.5PPG, 6.7RPG), Devin Booker (10.0PPG), Dakari Johnson (8.8PPG, 5.8RPG), Karl-Anthony Towns (8.1PPG, 6.6RPG), Trey Lyles (7.9PPG, 5.5RPG), and Andrew Harrison (7.7PPG, 4.2APG). Tyler Ulis is shooting 53% from the three. As a team Kentucky is shooting 47% from the field, 31% from three, and 65% from the free throw line. They are averaging 17 assist, 11 turnovers and 9 steals per game. One chink in the armor is their defensive rebounding. Despite being the tallest team in college basketball they are only averaging 26.6 defensive boards a game that ranks 55th in the country. And only have a +8 rebounding margin.

Kentucky’s 2014-15 OVERALL RANKINGS

OFFENSE
-POINTS PER GAME
76.8
37th
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
41.6
12th
OVERALL
-ASSISTS PER GAME
17.3
15th
OVERALL
-FIELD GOAL PCT
.475
48th
OVERALL

DEFENSE
-POINTS ALLOWED
47.7
2nd
OVERALL
-REBOUNDS PER GAME
26.6
55th
OVERALL
-BLOCKS PER GAME
8.7
1st
OVERALL
-STEALS PER GAME
8.5
39th
OVERALL

2014-15 Kenpom Rankings
Overall- #1
Defense Adjustment Efficiency
-82.7 ranks 1st
Offense Adjustment Efficiency
-114.7 ranks 5th
-Per Kenpom game prediction he has Kentucky winning the game 64-62 based on his indexes.

If there’s one team left on the schedule that could solve the riddle to beating this UK team it’s the Cardinals. Our Cards are also on the verge of having one of the best defenses in their history. They currently rank in the top ten nationally in four key defensive categories POINTS ALLOWED 54.4 per game 8th overall, D REBOUNDS 28.9 per game 9th overall, BLOCKS 7.2 per game 6th overall, and STEALS 10.7 per game good for 4th overall. They are second in defensive efficiency behind Kentucky in Kenpom’s rankings. I think the Louisville defense will have to force this Kentucky team to beat them from deep and force them into taking quick jump shots. I know that this was the way that UNC tried to beat them and they failed miserably because Kentucky hit those shots, but it was the first time UNC had ever played zone. Our Cardinals will be much more effective using the zone to man switches along with better rotation. If the Cardinals can force Kentucky into some bad shots and rebound well defensively it will be half the battle won.

Our Cardinals big four Wayne, Montrezl, Terry, and Chris are going to need their best efforts of the season. And I think we’ll need a surprise game from Mango, Nanu or one of the other freshman off the bench. I have seen a player come out of nowhere to star in these games before and I hope that player is wearing a Cardinal uniform Saturday. Our Cardinals have been really good on the OFFENSIVE BOARDS 44.8 per game good for 3rd overall, and above average in POINTS scoring 77.3 per game good for 34th overall. Of course those things will be crucial Saturday but they will have to improve their efforts in ASSIST currently ranked 149th overall, and FIELD GOAL % currently 151st overall.

Most people think that the key to winning the game on Saturday is for the Cardinals to hit the three point shot and while they will have to hit a few to keep the UK defense honest it is not the be all end all. UK wants teams to jack up the three point shot so they can grab those long rebounds and get out on those fast breaks with their speed and length. For the Louisville offense to be most effective they must attack the UK defense forcing help side and kicking it out to the open man. Attack… Pass… We should be able to get our fair share of offensive rebounds and should get second or third opportunities.

This will be the biggest test of the year for both of these teams. Each has to play to their strengths and attack the others weakness, but as I mentioned above with the player always coming out of nowhere there will be a scenario play out that nobody expected. These rivalry games are packed with emotion and that along with the home crowd will also factor in. I’m looking forward to a great game and a opportunity to knock off a great team. To keep their hopes of a perfect season from happening would go a long way to make up for those heart breaking losses to them recently. And the Cardinals have the chance to keep the home court record in the recent series to 2-1 and on the plus side of things. You must win these games on your home court. I think our guys will be ready. Should be another great one in the series… Go Cards!

The Beak Prediction
Louisville 80
Kentucky 77