Elite 8 Game Preview: Duke vs Louisville (5:05 Sunday)

By Dale Yarborough
ACC Bureau Reporter

The (1) Louisville Cardinals take on the (2) Duke Blue Devils in a paramount game that will decide a Final Four contender and end another team’s season. But beyond the players on the court, coaches Rick Pitino (Louisville) and Mike Krzyzewski (Duke) have history between the two that dates back before some players were even born.

One of the most memorable shots in college basketball history came in 1992 when Christian Leattner’s buzzer-beating shot sent Rick Pitino and his former Kentucky Wildcats packing after losing in the regional finals, 104-103 in overtime. Rick Pitino and his Louisville squad will hope Sunday’s matchup is everything but a repeat of what happened in 1992.

Many college basketball experts believe Louisville will win the NCAA Championship this year, and with great play from Russ Smith and Peyton Siva it would be hard to consider them an underdog against anyone. Russ Smith has led the Cardinals in scoring this season (18.1 ppg) and is second in assists (3.0 apg), just behind Peyton Siva (5.9 apg). Siva, the 6’ senior, is the backbone of the team, providing stability and great leadership that has proved critical in Louisville’s success. (1) Louisville has beaten (12) Oregon, (8) Colorado St, and (16) NC A&T thus far, and hope to make (2) Duke another victim on Sunday.

Coach Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils hope to stop Louisville’s momentum and secure a spot in the Final Four. Duke has a post-season resume with victories over (15) Albany, (7) Creighton, and (3) Michigan St, and look to add the top seeded Louisville team to the list. Seniors Ryan Kelly, Mason Plumlee, and Seth Curry have been outstanding this season and look to finish their year off with a championship. Ryan Kelly gives the Blue Devils leadership in his ability to communicate effectively on their floor and Plumlee and Curry both average over 17 points per game this season. If all three seniors can lead the team effectively and come out shooting well, they have a great chance of grabbing a spot in the Final Four.

Duke has a great chance of winning this game and I think that Kelly, Plumlee, and Curry have just enough firepower to carry their team past Louisville and on the Final Four.