SLU vs. Louisville: Billikens Look to Upset Esteemed Cardinals


The Billikens visit Barclays Center and look for an upset victory against the unranked but highly-regarded Louisville Cardinals.

Worst to first? Surprise of the season? Trying on Cinderella’s slipper already?

Granted, the Billikens haven’t necessarily been playing Top 10 opponents. But we’re four games in, and SLU has begun to show the ability to compete, one thing I noted as a vital key to this season in my preseason preview. With their biggest competition so far, and possibly the whole season, we break down the keys against Louisville on Saturday.


SLU has outrebounded opponents 154-134 so far this season, despite playing a significantly smaller lineup with Ash Yacoubou, Reggie Agbeko, and Milik Yarbrough as their main sources of size. The three of them account for around 60% of team rebounding, with Yacoubou leading the way with 8 rebounds per game. However, they run into a Louisville team that’s averaging upwards of 48 boards per game, good enough for 8th best in the nation. In classic Rick Pitino form, crazy length on the front line with Chinanu Onuaku and Mangok Mathiang will make it tough for Coach Crews to keep the length of a Matt Neufeld or Austin Gillmann off the court, despite the fact they still need rebounding development.

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Scoring Parity

At the end of last year, only one Billiken averaged double digits in points (Milik Yarbrough). But through the 2015-2016 season, 4 have maintained the mark (Yacoubou, Yarbrough, Miles Reynolds, and Mike Crawford). That’s very important when competing against a Louisville lineup that will run 9-deep and play some of the best defense in the nation (2nd fewest points given up overall this year). They’ve committed to posting up each player on the floor at some point in the game, with the exception of the point guards. That can work against the Hartfords of the world, but they’ll need to move the ball efficiently to find soft spots in the zone to help get everyone involved.

Guard Play

I’m not concerned with Milik, Ash, and Reggie. Milik and Ash will get 15 points and 8 rebounds each, and Reggie can peak at 10 and 7. But at guard, there’s still some uncertainty. As a former heavy critic of Miles Reynolds, I must admit that his play this year has proven haters like me wrong. He clearly worked his tail off this offseason to raise his play above that of Marcus Bartley and Davell Roby. But that’s where my questions remain. Who can carry the second unit? Quentin Snider and Damion Lee from Louisville should be a handful all night for whoever it is.


What angered me and many other Billiken fans the most last year weren’t the losses, but the lack of fight, which should have been expected from such a young team. Louisville’s a 15-point favorite, but I’d say it’s closer than the experts think, at the half at least. By the end, this team might still be a year or two away from this level of play. Louisville by 11.

Next: Blues Seek Much-Needed Win Against Last-Place Blue Jackets

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