Scouting Kentucky-Louisville

Keys to victory in Friday's Sweet 16 clash between in-state rivals

Originally Published: March 28, 2014
By Fran Fraschilla and Seth Greenberg | ESPN Insider

Julius RandleJamie Rhodes/USA TODAY SportsLouisville's Chris Jones and Kentucky's Julius Randle square off in one of the nation's top rivalries.

With Friday's highly anticipated Sweet 16 matchup between the Kentucky Wildcats (26-10, 12-6) and Louisville Cardinals (31-5, 15-3) fast approaching, we asked former coaches Fran Fraschilla and Seth Greenberg to break it all down. Each provided a scouting report on the biggest keys for both sides of the ball, with Fraschilla taking the role of Cardinals coach Rick Pitino and Greenberg the role of the Wildcats' John Calipari.


How to beat Kentucky (by Fran Fraschilla)

1. Ride Russ Smith

Smith might be the most important player to his own team in this entire Sweet 16 field. While he takes only 29 percent of his team's shots when he is on the floor (I thought it would be higher), as his offense goes, so go the Cardinals.

Smith is a streaky but dangerous 3-point shooter as evidenced by his six straight makes in the late-season win at SMU. And there is no better contortion layup maker in college basketball. His ball-stealing ability also creates easy scoring opportunities for his team.

In the first meeting with Kentucky, Smith shot 7-of-20 from the floor and missed all five shot attempts behind the arc. While his results were mixed, he had no problem challenging the Wildcats' front line and his ability to penetrate should create dump-off opportunities for Montrezl Harrell.

Once again, Andrew Harrison and James Young will likely draw the assignment of guarding Smith, and Smith's ability to get either in foul trouble could shrink Kentucky coach John Calipari's depth.

Fran Fraschilla is a college basketball analyst for ESPN. He formerly was the head coach at Manhattan, St. John's and New Mexico.