As soon as the brackets were announced on Selection Sunday, Cards fans realized that we could possibly face Michigan State. This was a big deal because when UofL was the overall #1 seed in 2008-2009, it was the Spartans that eliminated the Cards. Sure, California and Morehead State have eliminated UofL the last 2 seasons, but the Michigan State one stuck out more, because that was supposed to be our year. We won the Big East regular season, the Big East Tournament, and were primed for a Final Four run. Last night, it was time for revenge…
Coach Pitino improved to 10-0 in Sweet 16 games with the Cards 57-44 victory over the Spartans. It was a matchup of two of the best coaches in the game. And with 5 days to prepare, they showed how well they get their teams ready to play defense. With 11:12 left in the first half, the score was 5-5. It could have been seen as an ugly game, but it was a very well-scouted game and the defenses came to play. The 44 points scored by Michigan State was the lowest total in their NCAA Tournament history.
We have said it all season and it continues to prove true: when Gorgui Dieng stays out of foul trouble, this is a different UofL team. He played all 40 minutes and only had 3 fouls. He finished with 5 points, 9 rebounds, 7 blocks, and 3 steals. He was huge in this game, and he will need to continue to stay on the floor for the Cards to make a run. Chane Behanan had a great game also. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 15 points (6-10), 9 rebounds, and 3 steals.
Michigan State’s best player, Draymond Green, scored 13 points and had 16 rebounds. He was clearly frustrated though. He shot 5-16 and 1-7 from the 3 point line. He was blocked a couple of times by Dieng, and when he had the ball on the perimeter, he was constantly harassed by Peyton Siva and Russ Smith. After Smith stole the ball from him on one possession, Green clearly shoved him to the floor in frustration.
The Cards will now move on to face the Florida Gators with the chance to go to the Final Four. We will have a game preview for that later on. Go Cards!