Dec 28, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard James Young (1) reacts against the Louisville Cardinals in the second half at Rupp Arena. Kentucky defeated Louisville 73-66. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Analyzing Tonight's Game

Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight’s game is much more than just Louisville verses Kentucky or another heavyweight match-up between the last two national champions.  Tonight will be a true test to how the Cats can play in a hostile environment and how that they can overcome a team that can press like Louisville can.

Rick Pitino is known for a three-quarters press that is used to apply pressure from the inbounds pass to the transition into the half court offense.  This is going to either be a major headache for the Cats tonight or it could potentially work to their advantage.  Pressing your defenders also means that you are stretching out your defense as well.  If the Cats can use their speed and size to get around defenders, then it could lead to easy baskets and potentially get the Cats to the line and leave some Cards in foul trouble.

On the off chance the press does create problems for the Cats, it still should be a fairly close game still.  By no means should tonight’s game be a blowout either way.  The Cats have shown that they are willing to fight when it counts.  For example, last game against Wichita State, the Cats kept a fast pace throughout the game and didn’t lower their heads when they where down.  In other words, the Cats are maturing each game they play.  In fact, it seems as though that fans have yet to see the Cats play their best game yet.

Fun Facts Going Into Tonight’s Match-Up:

  • Each time the Cats and Cards have played one another in the NCAA Tournament, the winner has went on to either a Final Four or NCAA championship (Kentucky – 1951, 2012 NCAA champions and a 1984 Final Four appearance.  Louisville – 1959, 1983 Final Four appearances).
  • The Cats and the Cards have met once in the first round, three times in the Sweet Sixteen (including tonight’s game), once in the Elite Eight and once in the Final Four.
  • Rick Pitino is 11-0 in his career at the Sweet Sixteen.
  • If the Cats win, they will play either Tennessee or Michigan in the Elite Eight.  In 1983, Kentucky and Louisville met in the Elite Eight to play each other for the first time in 24 years.  The game was played in Knoxville, TN, the home of the Tennessee Volunteers.  This year’s Elite Eight in the Midwest Region will be played in Indianapolis, Indiana, the home of the Indianapolis Colts where former Volunteer quarterback Peyton Manning previously played before going to the Denver Broncos.
  • Both team have won the last two national championships.

Tip for tonight’s game is scheduled for 9:45PM EST on CBS.  However, that time is tentative depending on how the Tennessee/Michigan game finishes.

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