Cardinals vs Cardinal
A trip to the Final Four is on the line. 2-seed Louisville gears up to take on 1-seed Stanford in the Alamo Region final.
The Cards are fresh off their best win of the NCAA Tournament, defeating 6-seed Oregon 60-42. Their first and second round victories had slow starts with the Cards having to rally in the second half in both to win. Louisville took command early against the Ducks and would not be stopped.
This is Louisville's sixth Elite Eight appearance and their third straight appearance. They are 3-2 all-time in the Elite Eight. In 2019, Louisville fell to UConn. In 2018, the Cards took down Oregon State to advance to the Final Foul in Columbus.
Dana Evans found her mojo in the Sweet Sixteen as the senior guard went off to tie her career high with 29 points. She shot above 50% from the field. Her final points came on SportsCenter's #2 play yesterday when Mykasa Robinson recorded a steal and did a no-look behind the back pass to Evans for a breakaway layup.
Robinson's moxie has been a big factor this tournament. The junior from Ashland, KY posted seven rebounds, two points, and NO turnovers against Oregon all while stepping up on defense to overwhelm her much taller competitors.
Hailey Van Lith, who Axios valued her NIL at $965K yesterday, had another strong showing. The freshman scored eight points and hauled in seven rebounds while adding an assist and two steals. Van Lith was another force on the defensive end despite being outsized.
Kianna Smith has been consistent all tournament. The junior transfer from Cal hasn't put up MVP-like numbers, but her composure has helped the Cards get through tight spots. She posted an 11-point, five-rebound performance against Oregon.
Of course, we have to give huge props to Olivia Cochran and Elizabeth Dixon, as the duo did an excellent job against the 6'7 Sedona Prince and six other Oregon players listed at 6'2 or taller. Cochran is listed at 6'3 and Dixon is listed at 6'5 so they had their work cut out for them.
Elizabeth Balogun has six blocks this tournament. Sara Hammond and Chauntise Wright each had six blocks in an NCAA Tournament. Balogun has a chance to set the program record tonight.
UofL is allowing 46.0 points per game this tournament. The 138 total points is allowed is the fewest a Louisville team has allowed through the first three games of the tournament ever.
Their mascot is weird. Each year, a new tree mascot is designed and they have had some funky looking designs in the past. The Stanford band is also non-traditional with outlandish uniforms at times and having been the center of a half dozen controversies since 2000. They were one of the only bands to be a registered student organization instead of controlled by the schools' athletic or music dept until recently.
Stanford basketball has been rock solid this year. They carry a 28-2 record into tonight's game. Their only losses came in back-to-back games in mid-January. The Cardinal fell on the road in overtime to Colorado by five before falling to UCLA by four a week later. They now ride a 17-game win streak including wins over Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, Arizona, and Colorado.
Tara VanDerveer is a future Hall of Fame coach and is the all-time winningest coach in NCAA basketball history with 1122 wins. She passed Pat Summit in December and is now just a few games ahead of Geno Auriemma. VanDerveer's coaching tree is long and includes UofL's Beth Burns when the two were at San Diego State together.
Stanford has been strong on both sides of the ball, scoring 78.9 points per game while allowing 53.1 points per game. Stanford's opponents shoot a little over 32% from the field, second only to Baylor this year.
Four players average double-digits scoring for the Cardinal. Kiana Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game to lead the way. Haley Jones is scoring 12.8 points per game. Lexie Hull is averaging 11.1 points per game and Cameron Brink comes in at 10.1 points per game.
Jones and Brink have been a force on the boards, averaging 7.4 and 6.7 rebounds per game, respectively. Overall, Stanford averages 43.1 rebounds per game with roughly 30% of them on the offensive end.
Stanford's odds to win the championship before the start of the Elite Eight games was +125, just behind UConn at +105. Meanwhile, Louisville's odds to win sit at +4000.
The two foes have met just once. Remember the Final Four run back in 2018? The Cards met up with Stanford in Rupp Arena for the Sweet Sixteen. Louisville cruised to an 86-59 victory behind Asia Durr's 24 points and Myisha Hines-Allen's 17 points. Baylor's DiJonai Carrington was a freshman for Stanford that year.
This game is set to tip off at 9:00 p.m. but I expect it to tip off late if it follows suit with yesterday's games. This will be televised directly on ESPN and will also be on radio on 790-AM WKRD with Nick Curran and Adrienne Johnson.
We saw two great games last night. 1-seed UConn defeated 2-seed Baylor 69-67 following some late game controversy. Both teams held double-digits leads at certain points during the game and seemed to have the whole country watching.
3-seed Arizona and 4-seed Indiana had the later game. There was a little excitement in the third quarter as the teams exchanged words and a couple bumps. It was Aari McDonald's triples and 33 points that led the Wildcats to a 66-53 victory over the Hoosiers. It's Arizona's first ever trip to the Final Four.
With just five games remaining our standings have really taken shape.
46-12 Kenny S
45-13 Callie Blue
44-14 Jason Wyrick
43-15 David Watson
42-16 Arthur, Worldwide
40-18 Blue Lou
39-19 Clemson Cuz, Vivian McAdams
38-20 Nole Knowledge, Case, Kenneth Stark Sr
36-22 Nick O
31-27 Joe Hill
24-34 CC Chimps
Paulie has secured a top two finish. Kenny, Callie Blue, and Jason are also still competing for a prize. Based on future picks and future round losses already no one else has a chance to win anymore. Sadly, that knocks out the rest of the Cardinal Couple crew unless Daryl wants to come in and say she hasn't lost a game yet (she did not fill out a bracket).
Happy Tuesday and Go Cards!