Well, it’s hard to quibble with an 18 point smackdown. In the conference. On the road. In late February. Even if the opponent is Phlegm A & M. And Rutgers did their best imitation of the Mighty Hockers last night at the RAC.
With 2:49 to play in the opening half, U of L lead 33-14, and still was up a dozen at the break after the Scarlet Knight’s “run” of 13-6.
The Cards went 9:17 in the second half without a field goal — which is, frankly, more than a might troublesome — but still never led by less than nine.
Blistering teams you’re supposed to is always a good thing. And too many times easier said than done.
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The key, of course, was defense.
Louisville’s was downright stifling at times. The Cards played more man than in awhile. Which, I must suppose, was in preparation for the Dance, when it might behoove Louisville to use that ploy.
Then again, Rutgers is not a very good basketball team. That they actually beat Nova is a head scratcher. But underscores that you “always have to have a healthy respect for your opponent” (to quote Denny Crum). And reinforces why we love college hoops so much.
As good as U of L’s D was, Rutgers brought a lot of woe unto itself. 18 turnovers. Most unforced. 29.5% from the field, and just 2/14 from Treyville (to use Mike Pratt’s less than artful terminology).
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At the other end of the court, Louisville looked somewhat fractured a lot of the time. The Cards are running a new offense. And it showed. Not a lot of synchronization yet.
The inability to dribble penetrate was again on display.
The Rick played a bigger lineup more than ever. As important as Buckles is, he’s still got a major catching up curve. Until he’s fully back in place, I trust we’ll see those shorter lineups, which have been startlingly effective for the last couple of months.
The Rick has also shortened his bench. In a runaway when one might suppose that VT, Goode, Justice and Russ
Smith might get more action, they were all essentially MIA.
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It is at this point that I intended to handicap the probable seedings for the public bloodbath known as the Big East Tournament.
I have checked the schedules of the conglomeration of schools — U of L, Georgetown, St. John’s, Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia, Cincy and UConn — fully in flux for the important 3d and 4th double bye spots. (I’m assuming Pitt and ND are secure.)
If it seems like the following is simply addled, mindless prattle, you would be correct in your assessment. It’s shootin’ craps at the Golden Horseshoe.
Boeheim’s Orange are blessed. They have only two tilts to play, @G-town and DePaul. Lavin’s Johnnys still have 4 to go, but one toughie — Nova — is sandwiched twixt DePaul, Seton Hall and South Fla. Villanova has arguably the toughtest tests remaining: St. J, @ Notre Dame, @ Pitt.
The Hoyas and Bearcats play home and home. JTIII’s guys also get ‘Cuse in D.C. Cincy gets UConn at home and travels to Marquette. Huggie Bear also has some rows to hoe, at Rutgers and Pitt, while also hosting UConn and the Cards.
The Rick hopes the Cards can finish that 2 out of 3 thing. Pitt and Providence come to the Yum!. The season ends in Mountaineer Country. Of course, if the Cards win out, it’s bye bye in the Big Apple.
Too much info to compute? Told ya. I’d love to set some odds, but, frankly, I haven’t a clue.
As a Cardinal fan, in any of the above games, I’m going to root for the team with the most losses to win. And for the teams that U of L has beaten to win. (I would feel far more comfortable viz a viz St. J’s, had Pitt beaten them.)
The scary but scintillating reality is that any of those teams could end up with a double bye. Or toiling in the opening round as 9-16 seed.
And that’s why this conference is devilish little confederacy I like to call the BEast.
– Seedy K