2013 Final Four Preview: Louisville Cardinals
Road to Atlanta:
79-48 over North Carolina A&T
82-56 over Colorado State
77-69 over Oregon
85-63 over Duke
Last Final Four Appearance: 2012
Figurehead: Rick Pitino is the fifth coach with at least 7 Final Four appearances during career.
Star Player: Russ Smith began the season as the Cardinals sixth man and has now emerged as arguably the important player in their starting five. Smith has been a force to reckon with in the Big Dance, shooting over 54% from the three-point line.
X Factor: Russdiculousness gets most of the attention in Pitino’s offense, but Luke Hancock has emerged as a key player off the bench who quietly has double digit scoring nights.
Four Famous Alumni: Johnny Unitas, Wes Unseld, Chris Dodd, and Bill Samuels Sr.
Key Stat: Louisville has won 14 straight games, with 13 of those coming by double digits . Their smallest margin of victory during that span was a five point win over Syracuse on March 2nd.
Legacy: Rick Pitino was the first coach to lead three different schools to the Final Four and is looking to become the first to lead two different schools to national championships. Louisville would become the eight school with at least three national titles, by cutting down the nets in Atlanta.
Why Louisville Will Cut Down the Nets: The Cardinals have been playing their best basketball of the season at the right time and will end Wichita State’s Cinderella season, before getting the better of Michigan or fellow Big East member Syracuse in the national championship game.
Why the Cardinals Will Come Up Short: The Cardinals might get past the Shockers in the national semifinals, but Russdiculousness will not be enough against Trey Burke’s pick and rolls or that dominant Syracuse 2-3 zone.