ACC Basketball

Cardinals Head to South Beach

(Photo: Joe Robbins, Getty Images)

The Louisville Cardinals head down south to visit the Miami Hurricanes, with both teams going in opposite directions in the ACC standings. Rick Pitino’s squad has won three straight, having suffered just three loses all season long to top-rated Kentucky, the 4th ranked Blue Devils and the 12th ranked Tar Heels. As we know they’ve already avenged the latter defeat, with an impressive comeback win Saturday afternoon.

The Hurricanes have been ranked for five weeks during the season, but those weeks have been unkind, as they are just 4-5 on the year when ranked (10-2 when unranked). Now riding a two-game losing streak typically doesn’t mean the sky is falling, but the problem for Miami is, both their loses came against inferior opponents who will never sniff the NCAA tournament.

The game will come down to guard play. Yeah, I know that’s like saying my weight will be determined by how much I eat, but the fact is, four of the five best players on the court will be guards. Louisville’s Chris Jones and Terry Rozier account for 43% of their teams points, while Sheldon McClellan and Angel Rodriguez produce 41% of the Hurricanes scoring.

None of the four shot the ball at a level worth bragging about this weekend (19-58 total), yet only Miami’s Rodriguez has turned shot missing into a new kind of art form. He’s hit just 16% of of his attempts in his last five games. Against Georgia Tech and Florida State, he actually had good looks, but he just couldn’t put the ball through the hoop.

Of course, Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell probably feasts on guards for lunch and is the true x-factor. He’s averaging about 17 in his last four, ending a rough two-week period that saw him not get the ball enough and scoring just nine per contest.

In South Beach, he’ll be yelling, growling, flexing, rebounding and scoring in awe inspiring ways. Plus, he makes my wife horny and that’s the most important thing. Yet, Miami might just have what it take to slow him down.

Jim Larranaga should try to counter with both height (7-footer Tonye Jekiri) and girth (PF Omar Sherman weighs in around 260). The latter should get physical with Harrell and move him away from his comfort zone. The former should always been nearby in the lane, protecting both the rim and the glass (he’s tied for first in the ACC with 10 rebounds per game).

WORTHLESS PREDICTION: Miami, 72-69

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