--By Mike Gilpatrick
--Photo by Jared Anderson
In case you have not heard; the Louisville Cardinals have a small basketball game on Thursday. Jeff Walz and Company host women’s basketball juggernaut Connecticut at 7pm; at the KFC Yum! Center Thursday’s matchup marks the 19th meeting between the two squads. Louisville is looking to change the record against UConn; they’re 1-17 all-time against the Huskies. And 0-14 with Walz at the helm.
Louisville made it close against the Huskies last season in Storrs, Connecticut. The Huskies jumped out to a 24-6 lead in the first period, and outscored Louisville 42-22 at the half; but Louisville won the third and fourth. The Cardinals lost the game 69-58.
If Louisville had played in the first like they did the rest of the game; the Cardinals could have scraped away with a victory.
About the Huskies
Connecticut is a juggernaut. If non-basketball or non-sports fans in general were asked to name one women’s basketball team; Connecticut would be named. Head coach Geno Auriemma has led the Huskies to 11 NCAA titles, including four consecutive from 2013-2016, 19 Final Fours, 23 conference tournament championships and 24 regular-season tournaments.
Even Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots can’t come close to that level of greatness.
And again this year, Auriemma and the Huskies are near the top of numerous categories. They’re 2nd in scoring margin (+28.5 pts), 4th in turnovers (221), 3rd in assist to turnover ratio (1.66), 6th in field goal percentage (49%), and so on. All five of their starters are averaging in the double-digits. Katie Lou Samuelson leads the team with 18.8 points per game. Napheesa Collier is close, with 18.6. Collier is also strong off the glass, and grabs 10 rebounds per game.
Connecticut did have a loss this season, though. They lost to Baylor 68-57. In that game, the Huskies were held to under 30 percent from the field, and were out-rebounded and out-assisted.
Louisville will need to dominate the boards and pass the ball around. The Cardinals are 28th in assists. UConn is 7th.
If Louisville can get away with a win, Louisville will most likely jump up to No. 2 in the rankings. Baylor is No. 1 in the nation, and only has one loss this season, to No. 8 Stanford. The Bears have a large matchup with No. 12 Texas on Monday, and a loss there will most likely propel Louisville to 1st.
If Louisville isn’t able to defeat the Huskies, their national ranking will depend on the margin of victory. If the game is close, they will most likely stay within the top five.
But the one race that matters this time of year is not affected. UConn is not an ACC Team. The loss has no effect on the ACC regular-season race. NC State is still undefeated.
Nevertheless, Thursday’s game is a look into what may occur in the tournament.
Tickets are still available, for as low as $7.00 on Ticketmaster. The Yum! Center end zones have been opened for the game.