Tag:Louisville
Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:30 am
 

Big East night cap a pair of snoozers

Posted by Matt Norlander

NEW YORK — After what the first two and a half days of Big East tournament basketball presented, a come-down was to be expected.

The good news for the conference is, while Notre Dame and Louisville’s cruise-control blowouts were snoozers, they set up the best possible scenario for Friday night. When given the bracket, most would’ve picked the four teams left standing as the best possible group if you combine talent, fan interest and television draw.

Louisville didn’t mess around in the late game. It defeated Marquette, 81-56, and made no question about its performance. This was crucial for Rick Pitino and his Cardinals because they defeated Marquette in one of the most unlikely ways earlier this season, when the Golden Eagles blew a 19-point lead in six minutes and fell, 71-70.

Pitino called that win over Marquette on “a fluke” on his team’s behalf. This one was certainly not. Afterward, Pitino said he hasn’t had this much fun coaching a basketball team since 1987, when he coached Providence to the Final Four.  

Three of the top four seeds won Thursday. The last time that happened was 2007, when all four favorites advanced to Friday-night play. In one of the most competitive years in the history of the conference, seeding has done a decent job of holding to form. Pitino said he was a little cautious coming in due to the elongated layoff.

“I worry about the double-bye sometimes, not being prepared,” Pitino said. “I don’t think any coach is a big proponent of the double-bye.”

Marquette was playing its third game in as many nights. And just as in 2010, it ran out of gas in the second half against a superior opponent.

“The same thing happened to us last year,” Marquette coach Buzz Williams said. “Ten minutes to go against Georgetown last year, our third game in three nights, it was a tie ball game—they beat us by 23. Halftime tonight, we’re down five, and we get blitzed.”

The Cardinals pretty much did what they wanted. They may not have looked as good as Notre Dame did against Cincinnati, but it was close. The Golden Eagles couldn’t stop the long ball.

“If the team you’re playing scores 50 percent of their points from 3, you can probably deduct it was a long night,” Williams said.

The loss may have been good for Marquette though, as it will surely dodge the 8/9 game, instead getting a 10 or 11, and thus an easier second-round opponent, should it get there.

“I think the carryover that I hope we will have is that we arrived in New York not knowing what tournament we would play in,” Williams said. “And we go back to Milwaukee knowing what tournament that is.”

Louisville and Notre Dame will face each other for the first time in Big East tournament history Friday night. The Irish will play for a one seed, while Louisville will continue to go about its business, not a future NBA player on the team.

“Not since 1996 did I walk into a place and feel as confident as this,” Pitino said. “We know Notre Dame is very, very tough. They’re very, very skilled. They put on a passing clinic each night.”

In 1996, Rick Pitino was coaching a Kentucky team that’s considered one of the greatest of all-time.

Mike Brey and Pitino have done two of the best coaching jobs this season. It’s only fitting they get the chance to face each other for the right to play for a conference title. And odds are Friday night’s going to go a lot better than Thursday.

Photo: AP

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Posted on: March 8, 2011 2:16 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 2:37 pm
 

Projecting the first-round destinations

Posted by MATT JONES

I am a dork. Let’s get that out of the way right up front, because otherwise what I am attempting to do below will make no sense. While everyone else on the internet is giving their latest Bracketology projections and attempting to define the bottom half of the field of 68, I have a completely different goal. I want to try and get in the tournament committee’s minds and figure out exactly where the top seeds in the NCAA tournament will play their first round games .

Now this may seem like a silly enterprise, as on the surface it seems impossible to predict. If the process was random, with 68 teams and 8 different locales, projecting any team to any first round destination would be complete folly. But the process isn’t random and there is some logical basis to the assignments. In fact, if you understand two rules, projecting the assignments of some top teams can come rather easily:

1. The committee will try to put teams seeded in the top 4  teams in their region close to home.

2.  Duke will play in the state of North Carolina

Those two rules if not officially set in stone, are nearly always followed and thus give us some logical basis to begin a projection. At this point, our resident bracketologist Jerry Palm has these teams as the top 4 seeds:

  1. Ohio State, Kansas, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame
  2. Duke, Syracuse, Purdue, San Diego State
  3. North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida
  4. Louisville, Kentucky, St. Johns, BYU

While the order of those teams may change a bit and a couple of teams could crash the group (Vanderbilt, West Virginia, UCONN), it is likely that the vast majority of these teams will represent the 16 top seeds. For this year’s tournament, there are eight cities hosting first round games:

Cleveland
Chicago
Denver
Tucson

Washington DC

Tampa
Tulsa
Charlotte

Each city will be the host site of two of the top 16 seeds. So using our two rules above, we can begin projecting teams to particular sites based upon location. Cleveland is just a hop, skip and a jump from two No.1 seeds, Ohio State and Pittsburgh. Tulsa is the closest to Kansas and Chicago is virtually an extension of Notre Dame. So after placing the top seeds, the list looks like this:

Cleveland: Pittsburgh, Ohio State
Chicago:
Notre Dame
Denver:
Tucson:
Washington DC:

Tampa

Tulsa:
Kansas

Charlotte

Duke is a 2 seed and Charlotte is in North Carolina, thus making the Blue Devils a lock for the banking capital of America due to Rule No. 2. Purdue is within a quick drive to Chicago and Tucson is the only host city anywhere close to San Diego State. Syracuse would probably prefer to be in Cleveland, but because that locale is full, Washington DC becomes the most likely destination.

Cleveland: Pittsburgh, Ohio State
Chicago:
Notre Dame, Purdue
Denver:
Tucson:
San Diego State
Washington DC:
Syracuse

Tampa

Tulsa:
Kansas
Charlotte:
Duke

North Carolina is apparently still located in North Carolina and thus placing the Tar Heels in Charlotte ensures a packed house for each session. Tulsa is the location closest to Texas, making the Longhorns a likely candidate for that beautiful city. Tampa is in Florida and has a huge arena to fill, potentially enticing the fickle Gators fans to make the short drive. Wisconsin has no obvious destination, as nothing left is very close to Madison. But with Denver in that same general part of America and only one other western team, the Badgers seem likely headed for the Rockies:

Cleveland: Pittsburgh, Ohio State
Chicago:
Notre Dame, Purdue
Denver:
Wisconsin
Tucson:
San Diego State
Washington DC:
Syracuse
Tampa:
Florida
Tulsa:
Kansas, Texas
Charlotte:
Duke, North Carolina

This is when it starts to get tricky. BYU is the farthest west and can’t play on Sunday, meaning that Tucson is the likely home for the Cougars. St. John’s is in New York, which likes to think of DC as its dorky extension, thus sending the Red Storm to the nation’s capital. Louisville and Kentucky are both not close to either remaining destination, but the Cardinals are slightly farther west, sending them to Denver and Kentucky to Tampa. That makes the final split look like this:

Cleveland: Pittsburgh, Ohio State
Chicago:
Notre Dame, Purdue
Denver:
Wisconsin, Louisville
Tucson: San Diego State, BYU
Tampa:
Florida, Kentucky
Washington DC:
Syracuse, St. Johns
Tulsa:
Kansas, Texas
Charlotte:
Duke, North Carolina

Of course it is just as likely that the committee follows none of these parameters and just does what it wants. But if logic is used, you can book your travel destinations now.

Posted on: March 5, 2011 4:35 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2011 5:24 pm
 

Referee had no choice at end of UL-WVU game

Posted by MATT JONES

A huge weekend in college basketball got off to a bizarre start on Saturday as Louisville watched a FIVE-point lead disappear in the last 30 seconds to lose on the road at West Virginia, 72-70.

The final 30 seconds saw some poor execution by the Cardinals, as they missed a key free throw and allowed two open threes by the Mountaineers in order to tie the game. But all the postgame talk will focus on the final play in which Preston Knowles missed a three pointer to win and then committed a bizarre foul with .6 seconds left to allow West Virginia to win the game from the line. Here is how it went down, courtesy of the great college blog Ballinisahabit ...





The angle used by ESPN isn't the greatest here, but from the video one can get a decent perspective on what happened. In the haste of a missed jumper by Knowles, he went after the rebound with his characteristic aggression. By the time he arrived at the spot, West Virginia's Trucky Bryant had already grabbed the rebound and was attempting to move forward to take a last second heave. The action to move forward caused the collision into Knowles, who was still reaching for the ball. Knowles was not totally in control, ran into Bryant and extended his arms, causing the ball to go out of bounds.

At that point, the referee was left with a split-second decision. He could either call a foul 75 feet from the basket, effectively giving the game to West Virginia, or with the ball headed out of bounds, make no call and give Louisville an attempt at a game-winning shot with less than a second to go. Neither of those options are perfect, but the referee probably made the only call he could. It was clearly a foul and while time/situation would dictate potentially swallowing the whistle, the ball going out bounds took away that option.

Its a tough way to end the season for Louisville's gritty Knowles. But March still provides the opportunity for better endings and if the rest of his senior season provides any indication, the brain freeze in Morgantown will not be the last we hear of Preston Knowles.

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 27, 2011 6:10 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2011 3:04 pm
 

Young Cardinals show poise in win

Posted by Jeff Borzello

After Pittsburgh’s Brad Wanamaker hit a shot with 17 seconds left in regulation to forge a tie against Louisville, followed by Wanamaker and Gary McGhee both coming up with blocks on the ensuing defensive possession, many people thought the Cardinals would fold in overtime to a more experienced Pittsburgh bunch.

Think again.

In the extra session, Louisville scored the first four points en route to a 62-59 victory. In fact, if not for a moronic cheerleader earning a technical foul, the Cardinals would have held Pittsburgh to just one point in overtime.

The Cardinals forced three turnovers and allowed the Panthers to attempt just one shot from the field in the first four minutes of overtime.

There’s only one senior on Louisville’s roster, but the Cardinals demonstrated poise normally reserved for a team like Pittsburgh. Moreover, junior Terrence Jennings and senior Preston Knowles struggled throughout the game, combining for 11 points on 4-of-19 shooting.

The key for Louisville was its perimeter trio of sophomores Peyton Siva and Mike Marra, and junior Kyle Kuric. Kuric had 12 points, including a 3-pointer and clinching dunk in overtime; Marra went for 11 points, knocking down timely shots; and Siva finished with 14 points and three assists.

Heading into March, the Cardinals are starting to turn some of their detractors into believers. On short notice, they are going to be a difficult team to face, due to their pressure defense and half-court zone defense. Offensively, they are nearly impossible to stop when their 3-pointers are falling. Additionally, Siva is a player who can create shots at the end of games – something that every successful NCAA Tournament needs.

Most importantly, their young players are developing into battle-tested players who show composure when it matters. 

Photo: US Presswire

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 27, 2011 5:58 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2011 6:07 pm
 

Louisville cheerleader gets famous



Posted by MATT JONES

We don't yet know his name, but surely soon we will. After an exciting weekend of college basketball that featured three potential No. 1 seeds losing on the road, the lasting image may be of a rather portly cheerleader who got a bit too exuberant at the end of the Louisville-Pittsburgh game and nearly became the college basketball version of Bartman.

With .5 seconds left in the game, Louisville's Kyle Kuric got a breakaway dunk to put the Cards up 5 and finish the contest, sending the KFC Yum! Center crowd (which included a man dressed in full Col. Sanders garb) home happy with a win. As you can see above, the exuberance overtook the Louisville cheerleading team, specifically a husky young man whose excitement level was as high as his t-shirt tight. He threw the ball up in the air in celebration, not knowing that there was still time left on the clock. After looking at the monitor, the referees huddled up and assessed Louisville a technical foul for the interference of play. Pittsburgh made the foul shots, but missed a last second heave which could have sent the game into overtime and the cheerleader into hiding.

Because of the missed shot, the unnamed cheerleader avoided a public beheading, but his act did not go unnoticed. Rick Pitino began his press conference by saying, ""well, all good things come to an end and the male cheerleader has come to an end." The talk on message boards and Twitter was not about the Cardinals' huge victory over the conference leader, but rather a public debate on the cheerleader and his role in society. The merits of male cheerleaders in general was called into question (general consensus was that they are bizarre). Some wondered if this particular cheerleader would be kept on the team (my hope is yes). And still yet others marveled at how a man so happy could have a vertical leap so poor (the girls must be the real athletes of this squad).

Regardless, fat male UL cheerleader became the most famous male cheerleader since Will Ferrell an instant icon. He immediately joined Wild Bill of Utah State, Renardo Sidney's fight and Tim Higgins's gut as the most infamous characters/moments in college basketball this season. I don't know what his future holds, but my assumption is that within 24 hours a blog will find out his name and fat male UL cheerleader will become a talking point on PTI. For that, all of college basketball should be quite thankful. 


PHOTO: Mocksession.com

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 27, 2011 10:06 am
Edited on: February 27, 2011 2:00 pm
 

Sunday Preview: Big Ten battle and more



Posted by Eric Angevine

Purdue @ Michigan State, 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN: Gary Parrish does a good job of breaking this one down in the video above. The Spartans have obviously cooked their own goose this season, but they can still play spoiler in the Big Ten and show that there's no quit in Michigan State.

UConn @ Cincinnati, 12:00 p.m., ESPNU: You wouldn't think it with all the hype surrounding Kemba Walker's POY candidacy, but the Bearcats are actually in better position in the Big East race. They currently sit at sixth in the league standings at 9-6, while the Huskies have dropped to a barely tenable 8-7. If Cincy wins and Louisville loses, they'll be tied at 10-6, just behind Syracuse in fifth place.

Xavier @ Dayton, 1:00 p.m., ESPN2: I covered this on Friday. If Dayton can win, it gets to stay on the bubble, and may even end up hosting a First Four game in its own arena if it hold form into the postseason. If the Flyers lose, it's back to the NIT unless they win the A-10 auto bid.

Pitt @ Louisville, 2:00 p.m., CBS: This is the marquee game of the day, so it's fitting that it comes last on the schedule. When the other games are over, even fans of the day's other combatants can turn and watch the rest of this heavyweight matchup. Louisville has a chance to restructure the Big East standings a bit with a home win. Pitt's job is to keep rolling to what it hopes will be a pair of No. 1 seeds -- in the Big East tourney and in the NCAAs.

 
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Posted on: February 27, 2011 10:06 am
Edited on: February 27, 2011 2:00 pm
 

Sunday Preview: Big Ten battle and more



Posted by Eric Angevine

Purdue @ Michigan State, 1:00 p.m. ET, ESPN: Gary Parrish does a good job of breaking this one down in the video above. The Spartans have obviously cooked their own goose this season, but they can still play spoiler in the Big Ten and show that there's no quit in Michigan State.

UConn @ Cincinnati, 12:00 p.m., ESPNU: You wouldn't think it with all the hype surrounding Kemba Walker's POY candidacy, but the Bearcats are actually in better position in the Big East race. They currently sit at sixth in the league standings at 9-6, while the Huskies have dropped to a barely tenable 8-7. If Cincy wins and Louisville loses, they'll be tied at 10-6, just behind Syracuse in fifth place.

Xavier @ Dayton, 1:00 p.m., ESPN2: I covered this on Friday. If Dayton can win, it gets to stay on the bubble, and may even end up hosting a First Four game in its own arena if it hold form into the postseason. If the Flyers lose, it's back to the NIT unless they win the A-10 auto bid.

Pitt @ Louisville, 2:00 p.m., CBS: This is the marquee game of the day, so it's fitting that it comes last on the schedule. When the other games are over, even fans of the day's other combatants can turn and watch the rest of this heavyweight matchup. Louisville has a chance to restructure the Big East standings a bit with a home win. Pitt's job is to keep rolling to what it hopes will be a pair of No. 1 seeds -- in the Big East tourney and in the NCAAs.

 
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Posted on: February 22, 2011 5:41 pm
 

The Real Bracket Busters

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Let’s face it: NCAA Tournament pools are won by people who pick the right sleepers to reach the Final Four, and those that have the foresight to spot a high-seeded bust when they see them. Those cute, 12-over-5 upset picks that everyone in your office had? That doesn’t do it. The big money (figuratively speaking, of course) is made when you choose the middle-range seeded team that makes a deep run, or when you have a top-seeded team getting knocked out in round two.

We are only nearing the end of February, but it’s time to look at some teams that can a) ruin your bracket or b) carry your bracket to the top of the standings. The teams in Group A that I will discuss are potential high-seeded teams that I don’t think have the necessary make-up to make a deep run in March. Group B teams are squads that will likely be seeded five through eight or lower, but have what it takes to pull off a few upsets and end up in Indianapolis.

Don’t Trust These Teams

Villanova: If you’ve been following me on Twitter this season, you would know I’m not a fan of the Wildcats. Losses in six of their last 11 games has magnified my lack of confidence. They lack leadership, they don’t get consistent inside production from Antonio Pena or Mouphtaou Yarou and their offense falters when they can’t hit outside shots.

Florida: The Gators have looked a lot better in recent weeks, winning five in a row heading into a tough finishing stretch. I’m still not sold on them, though. The frontcourt, despite plenty of talent, is soft defensively, while the backcourt of Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton is inconsistent. Moreover, neither Walker nor Boynton is a true point guard.

Louisville: Rick Pitino has done a tremendous job with the Cardinals this season, but this team simply doesn’t have a lot of talent. They don’t rebound the ball well at either end, they don’t attack the rim and they turn it over too often. Preston Knowles is the go-to scorer, but he is struggling of late. When Terrence Jennings isn’t producing inside, the team is one-dimensional.

Connecticut: Clearly, I’m not sold on most of the Big East contenders this season. The Huskies have the kind of player who can carry them to a Final Four in Kemba Walker, but when he goes cold, this team can be picked off. They don’t shoot the ball well, and the freshmen have been inconsistent. Defensively, they allow far too many offensive rebounds. UConn will go as Kemba goes.

BYU: This comes with a caveat. I needed to choose a team in the top two seed lines, and I think BYU is the most vulnerable. Like Connecticut and Kemba Walker, the Cougars will go as far as Jimmer Fredette can take them. He is nearly impossible to stop, but he has been slowed down before, making BYU vulnerable. Depending on the match-ups, The Jimmer might be sent home early.

Don’t Overlook These Teams

Washington: Ken Pomeroy and his efficient ratings have pegged the Huskies all season as a team that is better than their record. Qualitatively, I would agree. Isaiah Thomas is one ofthe most difficult players to defend, and Matthew Bryan-Amaning provides an inside presence. Lorenzo Romar has multiple lockdown defenders, as well has plenty of experience.

Missouri: The Tigers have looked vulnerable at times in Big 12 play, but they are going to be a nightmare to play with only a couple of days of preparation. They get up and down the floor, forcing turnovers and getting transition baskets. Marcus Denmon leads a host of perimeter scorers, while Ricardo Ratliffe gives Missouri a go-to-guy on the inside.

Kansas State: This has nothing to do with the fact I picked the Wildcats to win the national title in the preseason. With Jacob Pullen on the perimeter, Frank Martin on the sidelines and loads of depth up front, Kansas State can match-up with anyone in the country. If the guards take care of the ball and the big men play to their potential, the Wildcats have what it takes to make a run.

Vanderbilt: With the tough finishing stretch the Commodores have, they will likely finish with a six seed or so. Look out for them at that spot, though. Vandy can beat you in a variety of ways, with John Jenkins hitting 3s and Festuz Ezeli scoring down low. Throw in Jeffery Taylor’s two-way talents and this is a tough offense. Defensively, they are disciplined and force tough shots. 

Illinois: If the Fighting Illini sneak into the NCAA Tournament, they are going to be someone no team wants to play. Despite their recent struggles, they still have the pieces to beat anyone in the country. Demetri McCamey leads a host of shooters, while Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale are tough inside. If the outside shots are falling, Illinois can get hot and make a run.

Photos: US Presswire (Corey Fisher, Isaiah Thomas)

 
 
 
 
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