Published February 06, 2017
To say Virginia has owned Louisville since the Cardinals entered the ACC back in 2014, well, that'd be an understatement.
In fact, No. 4 Louisville has beaten the 12th-ranked Cavaliers just once in five meetings since joining the conference ahead of the two team's Big Monday on ESPN (7 p.m. ET) matchup Monday night at Charlottesville, Va.
Virginia (17-5, 7-3 ACC) tamed the Cardinals, as it has done quite frequently, back in late December when both teams opened conference play against each other in the Bluegrass State. At the time, Louisville (19-4, 7-3) was ranked No. 6 when it fell to the Cavaliers 61-53.
Virginia led by as many as 15 points in the game and got 10 points from guard Devon Hall.
"You have to make shots against Virginia. They take away all of the sets that you run," Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said. "Virginia is one of the best defensive teams in the nation, but what makes them special is how they execute on offense."
Louisville has yet to break the 60-point mark in any game against the Cavaliers since joining the ACC and has been held under 50 points in three of the five matchups.
"I think Virginia has a little bit of an edge because they're executing on both ends of the floor," Pitino continued. "I think we've played them (Virginia) wrong. In certain sets, the way we've run them we've just done it wrong."
Despite its dominance over Louisville and the praise from Pitino, Virginia has dropped two of its last three games, including a 66-62 loss on the road to Syracuse on Saturday. The Cavaliers led by 12 points at halftime but allowed Syracuse to start the second half on an 11-0 run to turn the momentum.
"They're very good in spurts," Virginia head coach Tony Bennett said of Syracuse. "We said let's try to learn from last year. You can be going, but then all of the sudden they'll get it going."
Virginia and Louisville now share a three-way tie for second place in the ACC. The Cardinals are playing without two of their most talented guards. Quentin Snyder and Tony Hicks have been sidelined with injuries, and the team will be further depleted after Pitino suspended forwards Mangok Mathiang and Deng Adel for Monday game for violating curfew.
"I thought Quentin may be back for the Miami game but he wasn't," Pitino said. "We will see how he progresses and whether he can come back against Virginia."
Louisville knocked off Boston College by 23 points on Saturday and, despite missing two key pieces, are playing some of its best basketball of the season. The Cardinals have run off three straight wins by an average of 34 points per game. Guard Donovan Mitchell will need to continue his high-level play as he is coming off of 19 points against the Eagles.