Odds makers have gone on record as saying that Louisville will be favored in every game that they play in this region. That seems very odd considering that they are a 4 seed, however in this year’s tournament in which it appears the committee put a bunch of names in a hat and just plucked the seeds at random that is par for the course. It is understandable that the newly formed American Athletic Conference, which consists of many of the former Big East schools was seen as a weak conference to the committee. However you can’t discount the incredible run that Louisville went on last season. You can’t ignore that their leading scorer from last season remains and has never played better in his career. Finally in case you haven’t been watching organized basketball for the past 25 years, Rick Pitino is one of the great coaches of all time and is still very much the Head Coach at Louisville. Manhattan is an up-tempo team that likes to get out in transition and score points quickly. They have performed rather steadily throughout the season and were the winner of the MAAC conference tournament. They play a suffocating defense that forces over 21 turnovers per game which ranked 9th in the country.
Manhattan are led by their backcourt which is always a good thing this time of year. George Beamon averaged over 19 points and 6 rebounds a game. He is an aggressive player who is relentless attacking the basket and gets to the foul line. He also leads the team in steals which is a big of the teams overall approach. They are aggressive defensively at all times and Beamon’s quick hands along with anticipation skills are a big part of their success. Michael Alvarado is the other guard and is more of a distributor with 4 assists per game and he puts the ball in the basket at 12 points per contest. Rhamel Brown is a strong rebounder who scores a little over 10 points per game. They are a unique team in that 11 player’s average at least 10 minutes a game. That is the byproduct of their aggressive style of play.
Louisville also likes to play the game at a fast pace and will use a variety of presses throughout the game although most of the time they will be in a rather simple full court man to man designed to put pressure on the opposing teams guards. Smith had an outstanding senior campaign averaging over 18 points and nearly 5 assists per game. He will always be a scorer trapped in a point guards body however he is a dynamic playmaker regardless of his physical presence. Montrezl Harrell has evolved into the best NBA prospect on the team and is a huge physical presence who averaged 14 points and 8 rebounds per game. Along with the greatness of Smith returning, reining final four MVP Luke Hancock is also back and he averaged over 11 points per game.
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