Louisville hosts Florida Gulf Coast with a spot in the Sweet 16 on the line
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Following a dominant opening round performance by the Cardinals, an 81-55 win over No. 15 seed Radford, head coach Jeff Walz will need to prepare his team for a high-flying Florida Gulf Coast team, who upended Creighton 71-60 in the first round.
The game will be played in Louisville, which certainly favors the Cardinals, as will their experience in playing a number of big games throughout the year. The Cardinals (28-4) are led by junior Dana Evans, who is scoring 18.0 PPG, while seniors Jazmine Jones (14.1) and Kylee Shook (10.1) are also averaging double figures. Jones and Shook also bring a plethora of NCAA Tournament experience that could prove vital in this one.
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For FGCU head coach Karl Smesko, who are coming off of a dominating first round performance, the keys are simple: rebounding and pace.
“We need to keep them off of the offensive boards as much as possible. We are going to push the ball and look to get a lot of threes in transition,” Smesko told High Post Hoops. Rebounding will be vital is the Eagles want to pull the upset. Louisville is in the top-25 in the country in rebounding margin at +5.8, while the Eagles are 249th at -2.4.
The Eagles will need to keep pace on the glass and would love a repeat performance from senior Davion Wingate, who scored 35 points in the opener, while going 8-10 from behind the arc. “Davion is an explosive scorer. She has topped the 30-point mark multiple times this year including 38 in the ASUN quarterfinal,” Smesko said.
For the Eagles to have a chance, the threes might just have to fly.
Both Louisville and FGCU are ranked in the top-50 in scoring offense and scoring defense. Louisville has a significant strength and rebounding edge, while FGCU’s ability to shoot the 3-point shot could prove to be the ultimate equalizer.
Prediction: Louisville- 68 FGCU- 65
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