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November 17, 2012

Atlantis Preview: Louisville

Over the next seven days, PowerMizzou.com will preview every team in the 2012 Battle for Atlantis. Missouri opens play in the tournament at noon Central time on Thanksgiving Day and we will have complete coverage of the Tigers throughout the three-day event.

Our previews continue today with the Louisville Cardinals.

Coach: Rick Pitino
Last Year: 30-10, 10-8 Big East (7th)
Postseason: NCAA Final Four
Returning Starters: 3

Strengths: The Cardinals are ranked as high as second by some pre-season publications. They've got strengths all over the floor. It starts with the bench where Pitino has won 627 games in his career and been to the Final Four at three different schools. Last year, he took a team that finished barely better than .500 in the Big East and guided it to the Final Four. Of course, that doesn't happen without talent and Pitino has plenty. Peyton Siva is one of the few point guards quick enough to keep up with Phil Pressey and backcourt mate Russ Smith averaged 11.5 points and 2.2 steals per game. Swing man Wayne Blackshear can be a terror on the wing, but has battled injury in his first two seasons. Louisville will get size from 6-foor-11 Gorgui Dieng, who led the Big East in blocks, and 6-foot-8 Montrezl Harrell, a highly touted freshman from Hargrave Military Academy.

Weaknesses: Siva can play out of control at times and Blackshear has had a tough time staying on the floor. But Louisville doesn't have many obvious holes, which is why many are projecting them to be one of the nation's top teams. Breaking in a couple of new starters, the hope for the other teams in the Bahamas may be that the Cards take a few games to come together as a team.

Overview: In a loaded field, Louisville will be the pick of many to win the tournament. The key to the whole thing is Siva. When he's playing well, he's as good as any point guard in America. But he isn't the most consistent player in the country and he can be prone to turnovers. Still, he was a pre-season all-America pick by Blue Ribbon Basketball and he lives up to that, the Cardinals will be tough to beat...in Atlantis or anywhere else.

Other Atlantis Previews: Stanford, Northern Iowa

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