CRAWFORD | Scouting Louisville at Miami: 3 things to watch - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Scouting Louisville at Miami: 3 things to watch

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Miami's BankUnited Center, photo via Miami athletics. Miami's BankUnited Center, photo via Miami athletics.

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (WDRB) — It’s Senior Day at the University of Miami, the first of three straight the University of Louisville basketball team will be a part of — including its own next week in Louisville.

And Miami has some good ones to say goodbye to. Tonye Jekiri, Angel Rodriguez, Sheldon McClellan and Ivan Cruz Uceda all are key players for the Miami team that is tied with Louisville in second-place in the ACC standings, and is coming off a 3-point upset of No. 3-ranked Virginia.  Davon Reed, a 6-6 junior guard, scored 21 points in that game, connecting on 5-of-6 three-pointers.

The winner of today's 2 p.m. matchup between the teams will take sole possession of second place in the ACC -- and perhaps a share of first, if ACC leader North Carolina falls at Virginia.

Louisville has been in Miami since early Thursday morning after flying down from Pittsburgh following its victory there on Wednesday night. The No. 11-ranked Cards spent Friday night in the BankUnited Center, cheering on the No. 10-ranked Louisville women’s team in its 28-point win over No. 17-ranked Miami.

The Cardinals are hoping for a return from Raymond Spalding, who missed the Pitt game with a groin injury, but coaches weren’t sure.

They’ll need him against a Miami team ranked No. 12 in the AP poll that has good size and likes to pound the ball into the lane.

A few things to watch:

TIME: 2 p.m., BankUnited Center.

TV: ACC Network, WHAS-11 in Louisville (Tim Brant play-by-play, Jason Capel analyst).

SERIES: Louisville leads 9-2, and is 5-2 in games in Miami. Louisville won the last meeting 55-53 on Feb. 21, 2015 in Louisville.

OFFICIALS: Pat Driscoll, Tim Comer, Brian O’Connell.

LINE: Miami by 3 1/2. Under: 135. (Lineup graphic via Louisville sports information.)

1. LOUISVILLE’S HEALTH STATUS. The Cardinals were somehow able to limp along at Pittsburgh with some serious foul trouble and without Ray Spalding, it might be tougher going against a much better Miami team on the road today. At the very least, the Cardinals will need a much better effort than the one they got from Jaylen Johnson on Wednesday. Otherwise, the Cardinals need to get a big game from Damion Lee. When he’s on — as he was at the end of Louisville’s win at Pitt — they’re a different team. Simple as that.

2. DEFENDING THE DRIBBLE. The Cardinals’ success today largely will depend on how well they can guard Miami off the dribble, particularly point guard Ja’Quan Newton, who isn’t a big scorer, but who has a hand in finishing 28.3 percent of the Hurricanes’ possessions (82nd nationally) and who is among the ACC’s assist leaders. Offensively, the Cardinals will need to be disciplined, and will need to look for opportunities on the offensive glass, where Miami tends to provide a few.

3. SCOUTING THE HURRICANES. They are balanced, experienced, efficient, well-coached. You name it. It’s hard to call team ranked 12th in the nation under the radar, but it feels like the Hurricanes are. Still, they’re a legitimate second-weekend threat in the NCAA Tournament, because they’re good at both ends of the court. Ken Pomeroy’s ratings give the Hurricanes 16th most-efficient offense in the nation. They are not great — but solid — shooting from every section of the court, and they take good shots. They do not play an up-tempo game. Both Louisville and Miami have among the slower adjusted tempo ratings in the league, averaging a little more than two possessions per game below the national average.

Miami coach Jim Larrranaga knows his team has plenty of Senior Day motivation. But he says Louisville is motivated, too, telling the Miami Herald: “I’m sure the kids are very highly motivated to try to win the regular season because that’s the goal now. It’s not the ACC tournament. It’s not postseason. Not the NCAA or national championship. They’re not going to be given that opportunity. But they are able to compete for the regular-season title, and they’ve been playing like it.”

Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved. Follow Eric Crawford on Twitter @ericcrawford, or on Facebook by clicking here. Watch Eric Crawford and Mike Lacett with a report from Miami after tonight's game on WDRB News at 10.

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