By Derek DeBurger

Louisville will begin conference play against the Virginia Tech Hokies on Sunday.

After defeating the Hokies in 17 straight matchups from 1991 to 2021, the Cards have dropped the last two in the series.

Tech has not looked very impressive this season, and while the Cards could point to this game as one that could be a 50/50 game, but they’ve still looked better than Louisville this year. Tech has played one more Power-Six opponent than the Cards this season, and against the teams’ one common opponent—Coppin State—the Hokies beat them by 45 compared to the Cards’ 20-point victory.

There’s reason to be nervous, but we know the Cards can compete with just about any team — which Cards team is going to show up? If the same squad from New York comes to play the Cards have a strong shot at beating the Hokies, but we just don’t know.

Looking at the details of this game, the Hokies are a terrible rebounding team, ranking 313th in the country in rebounds per game. For a Cardinal squad that has never consistently boxed out under head coach Kenny Payne, this could prove to be a very favorable matchup on the glass.

Another plus for the Cards is that Virginia Tech’s offense doesn’t move the ball too much, it’s far more reliant on iso-ball. If the Cards can flex their athleticism and stay in front of their defenders then the Hokies should have a pretty difficult time putting the ball through the hoop.

Virginia Tech does have three players who are averaging over 14 points per game on the season. Louisville will need to play a disciplined game on the defensive end and avoid relying on help defense to try and get the Hokies off rhythm.

Even though they are more than capable of leaving Blacksburg, VA with a double-digit statement- victory, I don’t expect the Cards to win at all. However, I would love to see a Cards win to restart the streak.

File Photo // Vinny Porco, The Louisville Cardinal