Published January 08, 2015
Memphis, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - In the second quarterfinal matchup of the American Athletic Conference Tournament, the second-seeded Louisville Cardinals will receive a challenge from the seventh-seeded Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Louisville is the No. 2 seed because of a coin flip, as it tied with top-seed Cincinnati for the regular-season title in the AAC with a 15-3 league ledger. The Cardinals were just as dominant outside of the conference, going 26-5 overall in their follow-up to last season's national title run. They won the Big East Tournament in back-to-back years before helping to form the AAC for the 2013-14 campaign.
Rutgers pulled out a 72-68 victory over South Florida in Wednesday's first round. The Scarlet Knights didn't pick up many victories in the regular season and are just 12-20 overall in their first season under head coach Eddie Jordan.
Louisville crushed Rutgers, 102-54, on Feb. 16 to notch a sweep of the season series and earn its 13th win in 14 all-time meetings with the Scarlet Knights. The winner this time will clash with either Houston and SMU in the semifinals.
The Scarlet Knights are a not a particularly formidable offensive squad, netting 72.4 ppg, despite having a field goal percentage of just(.431). Myles Mack (15.2 ppg, 4.4 apg) and Kadeem Jack (14.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg) are the ringleaders for Jordan's squad, with each providing plenty of scoring. Jack tallied a game-high 18 points to go with six rebounds against USF, while Mack finished with 16 points. J.J. Moore (11.2 ppg) is another decent scorer, and he tallied 13 points in the first round.
The Cardinals really put an exclamation point on the end of the regular season, running over Connecticut, 81-48. Louisville forced 22 turnovers, which it traded in for 34 points. Montrezl Harrell (20 pints, 11 rebounds) was sensational in the game, while Russ Smith dished out 13 assists.
Normally Smith (17.5 ppg, 4.8 apg) is more dangerous as a scorer, finding ways to get shots off from all over the court. He was an important piece of last year's national title run and has excelled this season, ranking fourth in the AAC in scoring and third in assists, showing great strides in sharing the ball. Montrezl Harrell (14 ppg, 8.3 rpg) has been dominating opposing teams in the paint all season, hitting a league-best 61.2 percent of his shots from the floor. The talent-rich squad, which leads the AAC in scoring (81.8 ppg), also gets plenty of help from Luke Hancock (11.9 pg) and Chris Jones (10.3 ppg). The Cardinals are much more than an offensive juggernaut, however, limiting teams to 61.8 ppg on just 39.7 percent field goal efficiency.