Ole Miss women's basketball vs. Louisville in March Madness: Scouting report, score prediction

·3 min read

Ole Miss women's basketball coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin said she felt like her team was due to win a big one before it took down top-seeded Stanford on Sunday.

From here on out, they're all just as big.

The Rebels, having advanced to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2007, will take on Louisville at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle on Friday (9 p.m. CT, ESPN) after the Cardinals blew out Texas in the Round of 32.

Here's what to know before the eighth-seeded Rebels (25-8) and fifth-seeded Cardinals (25-11) clash.

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Hailey Van Lith leads the way for Louisville

The biggest threat to Ole Miss' outstanding defense is 5-foot-7 Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith, who leads the Cardinals in scoring with 19.5 points per game ‒ a mark good enough for third in the ACC.

Now a junior, Van Lith has started every game she's appeared in at the college level, and the Cardinals have added more and more volume to her scoring workload.

Despite that, she's managed to remain relatively efficient. Even while taking 16.7 shots per game this season, she shoots 41% from the floor. She's also second in assists for the Cardinals, dishing out 3.2 dimes per game to go along with 4.6 rebounds.

Her performances in Louisville's two NCAA Tournament games to this point have been nothing short of outstanding. She went 9-for-14 from the field and tallied 26 points to top Drake, then shot 7-for-11 with 21 points as Louisville demolished Texas.

If there is a weakness in her game, though, it's the 3-point line. Despite taking 5.3 triples per contest this season, she's shooting only 28.8%, down from 36.0% last season and 38.3% as a freshman.

Extra possessions are key for Ole Miss

Ole Miss has the second-lowest field-goal percentage of any of the 16 teams still standing in the NCAA Tournament, with the Rebels' 41.8% success rate from the floor topping only UCLA.

The Rebels are an elite defensive team, but to make the math equation work without an especially efficient offense, they rely heavily on extra possessions.

Ole Miss' 14.8 offensive rebounds per game rank 19th nationally, and it also averages two more takeaways than turnovers each game.

Those extra looks will be vital against a Cardinals team that shoots 45% from the field and 34.2% from 3-point land.

Even in the Rebels' two NCAA Tournament wins so far, their offense hasn't clicked. They need to ensure they continue to give themselves those extra looks.

Score prediction

Ole Miss 61, Louisville 57. It's clear by now that the Rebels' style of winning with physical, determined defense translates to postseason play. In fact, it seems like programs outside of the SEC that haven't been exposed to it don't really have an answer for it. If the Rebels can set the tone of this game ‒ and recent history has shown us that they probably can ‒ there's no reason they can't continue this run.

David Eckert covers Ole Miss for the Clarion Ledger. Email him at deckert@gannett.com or reach him on Twitter @davideckert98.

This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Ole Miss women vs. Louisville: Scouting report, score prediction