Louisville and Kentucky are both favored to win on the road in conference play Tuesday night.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Frostbitten Notes:
Press. Press. Press.
There's your scouting report for Louisville's visit to Villanova Tuesday night. Check the numbers from the Wildcats' last game, a 69-66 loss to Providence. Nova turned it over 24 times and committed 32 fouls. That's the model for inefficient play.
"I think you have to turn (Villanova) over," U of L coach Rick Pitino said. "One of the big things, about 29 or 30 percent of their points come from the foul line. They get a lot of their points from driving and getting to the foul line, like Marquette."
Villanova has committed more turnovers (294) than any Big East team. Nova ranks last in assist/turnover ratio. The Wildcats have lost three consecutive games and are racing toward missing the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season.
Villanova has only won a single NCAA Tournament game since its 2009 Final Four appearance even though the Wildcats have recruited two five-star prospects and eight four-star guys during that period.
But Jay Wright, Nova's coach, does have the best wardrobe in the league. The game tips at 8. Steve Andress of WDRB has been in Philadelphia since Monday and will have a report and post-game video at WDRB.com.
*Cards are favored by 11-1/2, which makes them the biggest road favorite in the country tonight.
Ken Pomeroy likes U of L by 14 with a 90 percent win probability. Jeff Sagarin's predictor numbers favor Rick Pitino's team by 13.
*The numbers for Kentucky, which visits Alabama at 9 p.m. on ESPN, are also encouraging. The Wildcats are favored by four.
Pomeroy likes the Wildcats by four with a win probability of 64 percent. Sagarin makes it unanimous for UK, also by four.
*Unlike Nova, Alabama has won three straight, handing Tennessee, Mississippi State and Texas A&M. Anthony Grant's team specializes in playing close games – and defending. The Crimson Tide are 11-6, and eight of their games have been decided by five points or less.
There hasn't been anything tricky about Alabama's formula. Over the last three games, Alabama has made 20 of 38 three-point shots and knocked away 32 steals. The Vols, Bulldogs and Aggies have missed 80 of 142 field-goal attempts.
*It's not difficult to find snapshots of life in Alabama. I visited the website of the Montgomery Advertiser and found these two gems:
A. The most popular story on the site was the news that Alabama football coach Nick Saban made a visit to practice for the Senior Bowl in Mobile.
B. This is the opening paragraph from Mark Edwards' story advancing the game:
"College football season is finished, and with the Alabama fan base maybe ready for a little basketball, the hoops team has a chance for a real showcase tonight."
Edwards obviously wasn't paying attention. Saban said Alabama's 2013 season started two days after Bama's Jan. 7 win in the BCS championship game.
*I had a blog item last week about John Gasaway's story in ESPN.com, ranking the Top 25 freshmen in the nation. Gasaway works for Basketball Prospectus and loves looking beyond the basic basketball statistics.
He ranked UK freshman center Nerlens Noel ninth and teammate Alex Poythress 17th. Archie Goodwin is UK's other top freshman as well as the Wildcats' leading scorer. He did not make the top 25.
In an e-mail, Gasaway said he gave strong consideration to Goodwin. But he decided that his numbers did not justify a Top 25 spot, especially considering his shooting slump in SEC play. Gasaway said although Poythress' play had also been erratic, he had been an efficient player in small doses.
*Finally, Rick Pitino said his reaction to Louisville's loss to Syracuse Saturday was different than the players' response. Pitino said he canceled his dinner plans and went home to follow the game that his son, Richard, won at Florida International (improving FIU's record to 10-8). The U of L players were not as shaken.
"This team's not devastated by the loss," Pitino said. "I was devastated for them. I came back the next day and they were the same old group. It didn't bother them.
"I said, 'Aren't you guys …' They said, ‘No, we're disappointed we didn't execute, but no, we're not devastated at all.' "
"Except Luke Hancock," Pitino said. "He said yes to the question."