The Washington Times-Herald

Local Sports

April 4, 2013

Louisville will continue roll to championship

Glade's Games

WASHINGTON — The Louisville Cardinals are going to win the national championship Monday night. This won't happen because of destiny or Kevin Ware's broken leg, but because they are easily the best team left playing in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cardinals entered the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed, and had won 10 straight games including a dismantling of possible championship game opponent Syracuse in the Big East Championship. Louisville hasn't disappointed while running its win streak to 14, winning the last four games by an average margin 21.7 ppg.

The Cardinals look just as dominant  as the 2009 North Carolina and 2012 Kentucky teams that rolled to the national championship without much resistance.

Not only is this the best team left, but they are one of the most mentally tough college teams I can remember.

The Kevin Ware injury occuring right in front of the Louisville bench was terrible, and yet somehow they regrouped to demolish a very good Duke team.

That situation reinforced that nothing was going to derail the runaway train that is the Cardinals quest for Rick Pitino's first national championship victory since 1996, if you can believe that.

To win in March you need a coach with experience and a roster full of guys how know how to win at this level. The Cardinals have both.

The beauty of Louisville is they don't have one player that will be picked in the first round of the NBA Draft in June. The Cardinals have a sure handed experienced point guard (Peyton Siva), a dynamic wing scorer who can go for 30 points on any night (Russ Smith) and a center to control the paint (Gorgui Dieng).

The Shockers of Wichita State have had a nice season, but Louisville should advance to Monday's championship game without much trouble. Louisville's pressure, which turns defense into offense very quickly will overwhelm Wichita State.

The more interesting Final Four matchup is the Syracuse 2-3 zone vs Trey Burke and the explosive Michigan offense. Michigan will pose a bigger threat to the Cardinals Monday night coronation. Louisville is very familiar with Syracuse, and has beaten the Orange twice this season. Louisville can slow down Michigan, but Burke can still find all of his shooters in the half court. Plus, a player like Burke can do anything in a one-game setting.

All that being said, Louisville will cut down the nets in Atlanta Monday night and have its one shining moment with Kevin Ware. Pitino will be back on the top of the mountain - a place he hasn't been in 17 years. Fans of the other elite college basketball programs should ready themselves for a real possibility that Louisville could be back in this exact position next season. Siva, Smith and Dieng are all juniors, and aren't expected to jump to the NBA.

Rick Pitino has been waiting to be in this situation, with a team as focused and talented as this one since he came back to college with Louisville. The Cardinals will cut down the nets Monday night, and there¹s isn't much any of the remaining teams can do to stop the coronation.


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