Friday, March 28, 2008

Louisville could test UNC

Before the second game Thursday night, Louisville’s cheerleaders were standing in the tunnel marveling at the crowd they were about to rush into Bobcats Arena to entertain.

“Look at all that Carolina blue,” one of them said.

All that Carolina blue will be a huge obstacle for the Cardinals on Saturday evening in the East Regional final. But if you look purely at matchups, No. 3 seed Louisville shouldn’t be overwhelmed when it plays No. 1 overall seed North Carolina.

In David Padgett, Earl Clark and Derrick Caracter, the Cardinals have enough big, nimble bodies to contend with Tyler Hansbrough and the rest of North Carolina’s talented post players.

Louisville also has a lot of depth at guard and on the wings. Though Andre McGee, Jerry Smith, Edgar Sosa and Terrence Williams aren’t as talented as North Carolina’s Ty Lawson or Wayne Ellington, they shouldn’t get tired if the Tar Heels get their fast break rolling. And Tennessee’s frenetic full-court press in Louisville’s 79-60 semifinal win provided a good test for the Cardinals’ ability to handle a fast pace.

There is a sense among many writers and broadcasters on press row that North Carolina is a prohibitive favorite to win the NCAA tournament. But Louisville is good enough to keep the Tar Heels out of the Final Four if North Carolina doesn’t play well and if the Cardinals aren’t intimidated by all that Carolina blue. – Ken Tysiac