USF and Louisville know each other well, having played each other thousands of times in pretty much every sport. The two schools were in the Metro Conference together in the early 1990s until it reorganized into Conference USA. In 2005, both USF and Louisville joined the Big East, and last year they were both AAC schools before Louisville moved to the ACC.
Louisville has just have six losses, five of which were to ranked teams. Their only bad loss was to Virginia, who defeated the Cardinals in the last game of the regular season. The Cards went on to beat North Carolina in overtime in the ACC quarterfinals and lost to Florida State in the ACC semifinals. They've been rewarded with a No. 8 national ranking and a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
USF (#25 nationally and a #6 seed) has experience playing at a high level, so Louisville isn't the toughest team that USF has faced this year. They shoot 45% and outscore their opponents by an average of 16 points. An 86-53 first round win over BYU saw the Cougars with 24 turnovers. The Cardinals leading scorer is freshman forward Mariya Moore, who averages 14 points and five rebounds per game. Myisha Hines-Allen, also a freshman forward, averages 12 points and five rebounds per game.
The way to beat Louisville's tall lineup is to keep them from getting second-chance points. They are excellent rebounders and they shoot efficiently -- when they miss, USF needs to control the glass. Katelyn Weber has an inch on Louisville's center and her ability to fight for rebounds will be a key to USF's success tonight.
Courtney Williams only made seven shots against LSU, but the rest of a balanced attack will need to make shots to give her space to operate where she's one of the most lethal players in America: the mid-range. When she's dialed in, she's an unstoppable force good for 20+ points, which is what USF will need from her tonight. Louisville head coach Jeff Walz describes Williams as "one of the top two or three guards in the country," adding, "You aren't going to stop her."
Elsewhere in the Albany quadrant of the bracket, No. 2 seed Kentucky lost to Dayton yesterday, so the winner of tonight's game has an easier road to meeting UConn next weekend. The turnout Saturday night at the Sun Dome was about 5,500 fans, and the equally hostile environment tonight might help tip things in USF's favor. It will be fun to play Louisville again.