Found March 17, 2013 on
The Louisville Cardinals have shown that they are comfortable being front-runners in their season-long quest to go further than last year's Final Four appearance.
Now, they enter the NCAA tournament as the overall No 1 seed. A familiar position for this squad, which was ranked No. 2 to start the season and was the preseason favorite to win the Big East.
Last year Louisville got hot during a surprising run in the Big East tournament and continued rolling to the Final Four.
Not this year.
The Cardinals (29-5) are on a 10-game winning streak and have captured their second straight Big East championship. Louisville opens play Thursday at Rupp Arena, about 75 miles east of its campus, against the winner of Tuesday's game between North Carolina A&T and Liberty.
Louisville stumbled in January, losing three straight after rising to No. 1 in the poll. An epic five-overtime loss at Notre Dame followed a few weeks later, a game Louisville laments letting slip away in the final minute of regulation.
The Cardinals haven't lost since.
They enter the tournament off a 17-point win over Syracuse in the Big East final after trailing by 16 points with 15 minutes remaining. More importantly, Louisville begins a quest for a third NCAA title on the same roll that led to last year's Final Four berth before the Cardinals' semifinal loss to archrival Kentucky, which went on to win its eighth championship.
Stinging as that defeat was for Louisville coach Rick Pitino, he has said it also revealed his team's potential for this season. And save for that midseason lull, the Cardinals have carried out their coach's vision.
They have ranked in the top three in turnovers per game and turnover margin thanks to a trademark trapping defense that has made things easier on the offensive end. Junior Russ Smith (18.1 points, 2.0 steals per game) and senior Peyton Siva (10.0 points, 2.2 steals, 5.9 assists) have been the most effective thieves, but everybody has bought into the program and contributed.
Those two also key an offense that doesn't shoot well at times but can be dangerous when it gets going. A lot depends on the mercurial Smith, nicknamed ''Russdiculous'' by Pitino because of his extremes in play.
Siva, twice named the Big East tournament's most outstanding player, is the veteran facilitator who can be a good option when his shooting is on. Center Gorgui Dieng (10.0 points) has developed a nice jumper to go along with solid rebounding (9.9) and shot blocking (2.5), while Chane Behanan continues growing as a power forward.
Louisville's main question is whether it has enough offense to make another deep run. The Cardinals are most effective in transition and have sometimes struggled when forced to play a halfcourt game. But a lot of work has yielded improved against zone defenses.
Siva and Dieng have also shown a knack for getting into foul trouble.
Unlike last season, Louisville returns with everyone healthy. Dieng, who missed seven games with a broken left wrist, has been able to hone his jumper as has Luke Hancock, who began the season with shoulder injuries.
The Cardinals also seem to have found their resolve after the Notre Dame loss. It took Pitino challenging them to win the final seven regular season games, but they've responded with a streak that has them with the target on their backs.
BEST OF MAXIM
Less than 24-hours after winning the 2013 Big East tournament title, Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals were rewarded by earning the top overall seed in this year’s NCAA tournament. Louisville has won ten consecutive games and is without a doubt the hottest team in the country. Here are some of Pitino’s comments via a press release from the university.
“We are ecstatic...
For the second time in five years, the Louisville Cardinal Basketball program has been given the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
Rick Pitino’s team will be the number one seed in the Midwest region. They’ll take on the winner of Liberty and North Carolina State who are both 16 seeds and will play in one of the play-in games.
Louisville claming the number one overall...
The gravity of the moment on Saturday night in Manhattan is perhaps one of the most difficult things for anyone in sports to properly quantify. It was the end of an era, one of the best that college basketball has ever known. As always, it was on basketball’s biggest stage at Madison Square Garden, with the nation watching.
This weekend, the Big East had its curtain call, something...
The dates and times were for the first and second round games of the NCAA tournament were released shortly after 10:30 PM on Sunday evening.
Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals will play their first NCAA tournament game on Thursday evening at 6:50 PM in Lexington, KY at Rupp Arena. The game will be broadcast on TBS.
Ian Eagle will call the action while Jim Spanarkel and Allie...
In recent years, Forbes.com has run a study that has found, what is the most valuable college basketball program in the nation? Ever, since the Yum! Center opened, the Louisville Cardinals have accelerated to the top of the list and it is no different this year. The Cards beat out the second closest money making program, the Kansas Jayhwaks, in current value by approximately...
I don’t think anyone will be complaining about multiple Louisville – Syracuse Big East Championship highlights. VillenHD is in postseason form and didn’t disappoint with this one. Enjoy.
How awesome was Montrezl Harrell?
Here is a brief video with some of Rick Pitino’s comments on Louisville being the number one overall seed and the potential match-ups in the Midwest region. Video courtesy of @TerryMeiners
COMPLETE REGION PREVIEWS
East | South | West
(1) Louisville Cardinals (29–5, 14–4 Big East)
The top overall...
The Midwest Region is lead by the Louisville Cardinals who finished 29-5, won the Big East tournament, and were granted the top overall seed. However, playing in a bracket with Duke & Michigan State, this is no easy journey to Atlanta. The only positive is that they will only have to face one of the two powerhouses. TV Schedule (EST): Tuesday, March 19North Carolina A&...