Suddenly, those rumors about Rick Pitino's interest in the Arizona job don't seem so far-fetched.
He'd have to spend a week in the shower to wash away the smell of his team's performance today. "Clunker" does not do justice to what Louisville offered up today.
Pitino's teams don't always win, but they don't get outhustled and outscrapped the way the Cardinals were today by Michigan State. The second half of today's Midwest Regional final was a classic example of what happens when one team shows up and the other doesn't. Louisville looked about as bored and disinterested as Mike Tyson did when he stepped in the ring against Buster Douglas, as if Sparty was supposed to hand over the keys to the Final Four and hop on the bus back to Lansing.
A running and pressing team like Louisville sometimes loses on a bad shooting day. After all, you need to make a few baskets to set up the press.
'Twasn't a bad shooting day that killed the 'Ville. It was a lack of intensity on defense and the boards. The Spartans had an easier time than expected getting the ball upcourt, and consistently outhustled the Cardinals on the boards (but State does boast the nation's best rebounding margin).
Louisville just let Goran Suton fire away at will in the first half, and the big galoot threw down 17 points. Still, at 30-27, Louisville was in it.
Yes, they finally paid attention to Suton, my Player of the Day, after intermission, but just completely ignored the perimeter. When Durrell Summers and Kalin Lucas threw down threes on three straight possessions, the game was over. Where were the Cardinals that overwhelmed Arizona and refused to lose after Siena whacked them upside the head with a 12-0 run? Not in Indy.
And where was the leadership? Samardo Samuels took an 0-fer - there are no freshmen anymore this time of year, Sammy. And Terrence Williams? To paraphrase the great philosopher Vernon Wormer, five points in 35 minutes is no way to end a college career, son.
Michigan State's not a better team than Louisville. But the Spartans were a tougher team. Did any Cardinals watch the MSU-Kansas tape? And think about it: does a Tom Izzo team ever get outworked? Didn't see their game with Carolina, but I suspect they worked harder down 30something in the second half than Louisville did today.
If I sound like somebody who lost a perfect Final Four thanks to Louisville, then thank you, Captain Obvious.
The Tar Heels, meanwhile, are scary. They don't even need much production from Tyler Hansbrough anymore (eight points and six rebounds). Ty Lawson and Danny Green held down the front row in today's wire-to-wire job over Oklahoma.
Blake Griffin made his numbers (23 points and 16 rebounds), but it was really just he and Willie Warren today. When you're 0-for-13 from behind the arc until the final five minutes, you'll have trouble beating jobber teams, let alone the Heels.
I'll deal with my Final Four picks later this week, but quickly...Carolina takes Nova, but UConn-Michigan State is going to require some deep thought.