If anyone doubted Louisville’s worth as a No. 1 overall seed for even a second coming into this tournament, the Cardinals have quickly silenced those critics with two absolutely dominating performances. And they don’t look anywhere near satisfied.
In this much hyped season of parity, where no team looked truly dominant or like a clear cut favourite during the regular season, Rick Pitino’s Cardinals are certainly making their case to fill that void. On Saturday, Louisville got off to a somewhat shaky start against No. 8 Colorado State, but after taking the lead with about 11 minutes remaining in the first half, they simply never looked back, cruising to a 26-point victory two days after routing No. 16 North Carolina A&T by 31 points.
Louisville’s swarming defence created 11 steals and forced the Rams into 19 turnovers while they turned the ball over only nine times themselves, but what was most impressive to watch, and most intimidating to watch for future opponents, was the way Louisville continued to press Colorado State on defence and relentlessly attack them on offence despite a comfortable lead. There’s no doubt where that refusal to accept complacency comes from, and that’s Pitino.
(GIFs courtesy of SBNation and cjzero.com)
Sure, they’ve yet to play a real threat in the tournament, but the Cards are just functioning on another level right now on both ends of the floor, as through two games, they’re shooting nearly 57 per cent on one end while holding teams below 44 per cent on the other.
Is it wishful thinking to believe that No. 12 Oregon can give Louisville a game in the Sweet 16? If they can, these Pitino meltdowns will look like mere friendly gestures by then.