Previewing No. 7 Louisville vs. No. 10 Minnesota: Date, Time, Players to Watch

The first game of the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament will feature Minnesota Coach Richard Pitino coaching against his father’s former team, the seventh-seeded Louisville Cardinals.

Of course, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Committee didn’t intentionally choose this matchup for that reason – when you put 68 teams in a bracket, there are bound to be intriguing storylines like this – but it projects to be a compelling game, like many 7 vs. 10 matchups.


Date/Time: Thursday, March 21, 12:15 p.m. ET projection: Louisville def. Minnesota 71-66

Betting line: Louisville -4.5 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

No. 7 seed Louisville

Coach: Chris Mack

Record: 20-13 (10-8)

Conference Tournament Finish: Lost in quarterfinals

Player to watch: F Jordan Nwora

Louisville was a No. 4 seed when the selection committee announced its top 16 seed reveal on Feb. 9, but the Cardinals have lost seven of their 10 games since the Bracket Preview Show. The Chris Mack era at Louisville got off to a slow start against a challenging non-conference schedule, then the Cardinals started 7-1 in ACC play before coming back to Earth against a back-loaded conference schedule.

The computers will say Louisville is better than a typical No. 7 seed (its ranking is No. 17) with the 29th-most efficient offense and the 17th-most efficient defense, but the Cardinals haven’t beaten an NCAA Tournament team in almost a month and a half (72-64 at Virginia Tech on Feb. 4).

Sophomore forward Jordan Nwora had a breakout season, leading the Cardinals with 17.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game after averaging just 5.7 points in 12 minutes per game off the bench as a freshman.

[RELATED: Print Your 2019 NCAA Tournament Bracket]

No. 10 seed Minnesota

Coach: Richard Pitino

Record: 21-13 (9-11)

Conference Tournament Finish: Lost in semifinals

Player to watch: F Jordan Murphy

Richard Pitino was on Stadium’s list of coaches on the hot seat last October, but the Gophers likely played their way to job security for their coach as they reached the NCAA Tournament for the second time in Pitino’s six seasons with Minnesota. The Gophers finished seventh in the 14-team Big Ten, they’re ranked No. 47 on (41st among NCAA Tournament teams) and they’re 10-11 since Big Ten play resumed in the New Year. That’s almost the definition of mediocrity.

However, the Gophers have also defeated No. 3 seed Purdue twice this month.

Minnesota senior forward Jordan Murphy is a walking double-double (he has 22 this year) who is on the short list of the best rebounders in the country. The Gophers’ shooting (32.1 3-point percentage, 48.4 2-point percentage) is a big concern, however.

MORE: 2019 NCAA Tournament Schedule, Dates, Times, Locations