Louisville vs Florida Pick 2012 NCAA Tournament Elite 8 Preview
While most people were expecting Syracuse to become the first top seed to be eliminated form the 2012 NCAA tournament, Louisville caught everyone by surprise Thursday night.
Listed as one of the Final Four favorites, the Michigan State Spartans underestimated a motivated Cardinals team and paid the ultimate price. Louisville coach Rick Pitino put together the perfect game-plan to pull off the upset. The Cardinals’ shooters set the tone by hitting perimeter and thee-pointers in the first half and adjusted to what MSU would do in the second stanza by dumping the ball down low.
“Our game plan was to cut off the paint,” said Spartans head coach Tom Izzo. “I thought we did actually a very good job of that. And yet they hit some 3’s.”
Thanks to great execution, Louisville pulled off an improbable 57-44 victory over one of the juggernauts in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Offensively, Chane Behanan led the way with 15 points (6-for-10) and 9 rebounds, but it was the Cardinals defense that was the difference in the game.
Sophomore center, Gorgui Dieng put his stamp on this game, collecting 9 boards, blocked 7 shots and even recorded 3 steals in his 40 minutes of action.
“He was very disruptive,” said MSU’s top-leading scorer and rebounder, Draymond Green. “We’re not going to back down from anyone. We took it at him. He pulled off some great blocked shots. That’s what he does. That’s his strength.”
The Cardinals will be taking on another team that’s not supposed to be here in a matchup with an interesting underlining subplot. Gators’ head coach Billy Donovan will be going up against his former coach and boss for a chance to advance to the Final Four.
For what Pitino has meant for him in his life, Donovan will not only have to come up with a gameplan to stop the momentum the Cardinals have going, but he will also have to fight his emotions in this one.
“Obviously, I’ve said that outside of my parents, he’s the most influential person in my life,” Donovan said. “These are hard games, because they’re such close relationships. But I do think the game is really about players playing in the game who are going to be competing on Saturday.”
With less than 24 hours away from their showdown, 2012 NCAA Tournament Elite 8 oddsmakers have listed Florida as -1½ point favorites over Louisville. The Gators and the Cardinals are scheduled to tipoff Saturday at 4:30 PM ET from US Airways Center in Phoenix, AZ.