Louisville (14-3, 3-1) is a weird team. In their out-of-conference schedule they only faced two teams ranked in Pomeroy's top 100. But they were both on the road against good programs: Michigan State (currently No. 11 at kenpom.com), and Kentucky (31). They lost both games, but they were close.
Their other 11 games were against overmatched opponents, and none of the games were contested. They won all of them by at least 20, and all but three by 30+.
ACC play began and they worked close wins against Wake Forest and at NC State.
Then they curb stomped 1-loss Pittsburgh.
It's tough to say what Louisville is at this point. On the one hand, the advanced stats love them - they're currently the No. 6 team at kenpom. They have the best defense in the nation. Rick Pitino has done something he's never done before - compared them to the makeup of his famous 1987 Providence team which made an improbable run to the Final 4.
On the other hand, they haven't beaten anyone but Pitt.
What we do know is that they're really talented. They have six top-100 recruits on the roster, and that would be impressive enough if their top two scorers - who currently account for 40% of Louisville's points - were included among those six. But they're not. Instead, Pitino has gone modern and brought in 1-year transfers. There are over 3,000 3* and below players in college basketball. One popular recruiting method is to sift through them after they've played a few years, and identify the tiny fraction that the recruiting services whiffed on. Then have those guys transfer to your school.
Damion Lee and Trey Lewis played last year at Drexel and Cleveland State, respectively. Now they're part of a 3-guard Louisville lineup. Lee is the 4th most efficient player in the conference, and is averaging 16.7 ppg. Lewis, now at his 3rd college, is averaging 12.6 per game, and makes 38% of his 3s.
Damion Lee is big (6-6), and they're both tough, and they're both 23-years-old. Per Rick Pitino they both took over leadership of the team the day they walked on campus.
The other player in double-figures is 6-10 sophomore Chinanu Onuaku (10.5 ppg) who is the latest in a long and proud tradition of Rick Pitino big men who really love to flex at the crowd after every basket.
They also have a pair of freshmen who look like future All Conference stars. Powerfully built 6-3 Donovan Mitchell can jump out of the gym, and 6-10 Ray Spalding will remind people of FSU commit Jonathan Isaac.
Louisville likes helter-skelter games. Their pressure defense leads to a lot of quick possessions, and like FSU, that's where they are at their best. They are the best offensive rebounding team in the nation and they want everything at the rim. 60% of their points come on 2s, which is the 6th most in the country.
All of this adds up to the No. 38 offense in the nation.
It's the other side of the floor where Louisville is elite. They are the most efficient defense in the country (and top-5 for the 8th time in 9 years). They can pressure the length of the floor and they contest everything. Pitt, who has a top 10 offense, scored just 41 points in 63 possessions.
The good news is that FSU has already faced two high-pressure teams - VCU and Florida - and beat them both. The bad news is that Louisville's defense is on a whole different level.
The game tips Wednesday at 9 PM and will be broadcast on ESPNU. Louisville opened as a 10.5 point favorite.