Originally written on The Victory Formation  |  Last updated 11/10/14

Rick Pitino’s Louisville Cardinals were the #1 overall seed in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, and many believed they had the horses to win it all with all the NBA level talent on their team. However they could not get through Michigan State and watched it from home.  3 years later, Rich Pitino beat an MSU team with an All-American of their own to get back to the Elite 8, then overcome an 11 point deficit late in the 2nd half to beat the Gators 72-68 and advance to the Final Four.

 

The Cards are the first team to punch their ticket to New Orleans, and did so with a dramatic comeback.  The West Region’s 4th seeded team found themselves losing by 11 with only 10 minutes left following an Eric Smith hook shot.  Pitino called a timeout and after that stoppage of play, Louisville began clawing their way back into the game.  They would chip away at the lead over the next 7 minutes until Chane Behanan made a lay-up to tie it up at 66 with 3:07 to play.  Kenny Boynton would reclaim the lead for the Gators with a jump shot at the 2:40 mark of regulation, but that would be the last basket the Gators would score.

Following a Chris Smith split at the FT line, the Cardinals would get the stop they needed when  Boynton missed a 17-footer.  Behanan’s jumper put Louisville up for good.  Florida had a couple of opportunities to reclaim the lead, but Bradley Beal missed a dunk, and Erving Walker couldn’t make his jump shot. The Gators were forced to foul Russ Smith who would make his FT’s to put the Cardinals up 3.  Florida would misfire on a few 3-point attempts to tie the game, as Pitino opted not to foul. The Cardinals would grab the rebound after Boynton’s miss from beyond the arc, and Wayne Blackshear would split his FTs to essentially end the game.

This will Louisville’s 9th Final Four appearance, and second under Pitino, who will be coaching in his 6th, winning the title in 1996 with Kentucky.  He might get to coach against his former team if the Wildcats can defeat Baylor on Sunday.

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