Today I caught up with Seth Davis, writer and college basketball analyst for Sports Illustrated, and we had a brief chat over the phone about the Kentucky Wildcats versus Louisville Cardinals basketball game. What follows is the gist of what we talked about.
I first asked Davis what storylines he thought were the most important in today's game. He replied that the Rick Pitino -- John Calipari rivalry/coaching matchup was one of the most interesting things about the game. He described a recent media availability and interview with both coaches together talking about the game and the rivalry, and how they were both very professional, but I got the sense of the existing tension between the two men.
Davis also thought that the chess match between these coaches when it comes to the actual game was a fascinating angle, and finally, how much Peyton Siva can impact the game.
When I asked Davis about which matchups in this game intrigued him most, his answer was the Siva -- Marquis Teague matchup, and how important it was for Louisville to control the tempo and avoid the Kentucky fast break. He is also interested in just how well Teague can handle the ball against the pressure of Siva and the Louisville back court.
The second matchup that Davis mentioned was the one between Gorgui Dieng and Anthony Davis, and how Dieng was able to impact the game between the Cardinals and the Michigan St. Spartans with seven blocks and only three fouls.
Then we talked about some of the keys to this game, and Davis pointed out that Louisville was one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the tournament. He noted that Calipari had molded this Kentucky team into the best defensive unit in the country, and that in order to score enough points to beat the Wildcats, Louisville would have to make the open shots that they do manage to get against UK.
Finally, I asked Davis how he thought the game would play out, and if he were a writing a script for this game, what would it look like? Davis said that he thought Louisville demonstrated a strong ability to rebound from a big deficit in the regional final against the Florida Gators, and he visualized UK getting out to a large lead in similar fashion to Florida and Louisville getting back into the game by chipping away at that lead during the second half, perhaps even to tie the game near the end. He left the ultimate outcome unspoken.
I want to thank Mr. Davis for taking the time to speak with us, and he asked us to mention that his sponsor, Subway, was offering a very special two-for-one deal for the month of April only. If you buy one Subway 6" breakfast sub before 9 AM, you will get a second one free. So visit Subway for breakfast in April, and bring a hungry friend.
A quick administrative note: The regular open game thread will be up just before the game, and we'll be opening other threads as necessary. The postmortem may or may not be a bit late tonight, as I won't get back to the hotel until after the second game. Ken is supposed to try to do one if he can, but if that goes awry for some reason, I'll get to it as soon as possible.