NCAA in Rupp notes: Broken brackets to be expected, Pitino says

mstory@herald-leader.comMarch 22, 2013 

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino answered questions during an interview session at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., on March 22, 2013. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff

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Very few surprises come tournament time.

That was the gist of Rick Pitino's response when the Louisville coach was asked Friday about some of the upsets a day earlier, highlighted by Harvard beating New Mexico.

"Well, to tell you the truth, I didn't think that was an upset, that's one. I thought Harvard would play them tough. I thought they would be in the game," Pitino said. "Yesterday, I thought Pittsburgh was going to have a very difficult time with Wichita State. I thought Marquette would have a difficult time with Davidson. I knew Temple would play well against N.C. State today. Now, if Southern had beaten Gonzaga, that was an upset.

"Everybody is saying ... the committee got the seeding wrong with Oregon. They didn't get it wrong. Everybody is just really, really close. I was watching something today — it's easier to hit the lottery than it is to pick a perfect bracket percentage-wise. It really is.

" ... If we played Harvard 10 times, we may win six and they may win four. And we're the No. 1 of No. 1 seeds. We're very close in terms of talent. Now, there comes a team every now and then where a Duke, us, Carolina may have four first-round draft choices on it, plus they have a great attitude, plus they're in the upper class. And then you have a dominant basketball team like Kentucky had last year. But there's very few of those teams that come along."


To read the rest of the article, please scroll past these links to related stories on games in Rupp Arena.

NCAA Visitors Guide: Welcome to Lexington tournament-goers

NCAA bracket with game times, locations

NCAA in Rupp: Louisville, Colorado State present each other unique challenges

NCAA in Rupp: Louisville's Harrell embraces the pressure

Mark Story: Butler's Stevens as calm as he looks — most of the time

NCAA in Rupp notes: Broken brackets to be expected, Pitino says

Marquette looking for payback vs. Butler in third round


Record-breaking

Louisville's 20 steals in Thursday's win over North Carolina A&T broke the NCAA Tournament record of 19 set by Providence in 1987 and tied by Connecticut in 1990. Pitino coached the 1987 Providence team and point guard Billy Donovan, now the head coach at Florida. So what did Pitino do after Thursday's game?

"I sent Billy the Kid a text that said, 'Sorry, you no longer have that record.'"

All basketball, all the time

Tournament-time TV makes U of L point guard Peyton Siva like a moth attracted to a light.

"I can't sleep with the basketball game on because I'm constantly checking the score, who's playing, who's winning. I'm constantly up all the time," he said. "Especially with these late games at 9:50 at night, you stay up all night watching these games."

(Somewhat) familiar foe

Tom Jurich, U of L's vice president and director of athletics, formerly was athletic director at Colorado State (1994-97). He also was a high school teammate of CSU Coach Larry Eustachy.

Despite those familiarities, this will mark the teams' first meeting on the basketball court.

Clarke and Pelphrey

Butler star Rotnei Clarke played his first three years of college basketball for John Pelphrey at Arkansas.

After Arkansas fired Pelphrey, a former Kentucky standout, in 2011, Clarke transferred to Butler.

After sitting out last year, Clarke has had a big season with the Bulldogs, averaging a career-high 16.7 points.

Clarke said Pelphrey, now an assistant at Florida, has stayed in touch.

"He's texted me throughout the season, told me 'Congrats,'" Clarke said. "We talked on Senior Night that I had at Butler. He just said he was sorry I couldn't share it with him at Arkansas.

"I think he feels a little bit of guilt, which he shouldn't because these things happen. But he wanted to share that moment with me, and it would have been cool to share it with him, too."

Creating a Buzz

There's no more entertaining coach on the sidelines than Marquette's Buzz Williams, who is known for smiling through disaster, perspiring through his clothes, and being in perpetual emotional motion.

Golden Eagles senior Chris Otule said he'll check game videos to see Williams "doing splits in the air, kicking his leg up like dancers in Vegas."

Marquette senior Trent Lockett said he appreciates his coach's histrionics.

"When I see him sweating through his shirts and switching shirts at halftime, and how hoarse he gets during the game, it shows how much this game means to him."

Williams said the perception of him is that he's an "emotionally high-strung savant," and he admitted he sometimes acts "like a clown.

"But sometimes I'm a little smarter than I act, and I know how to play possum better than you do. I know when to be quiet, when to speak, when to act stupid and when to act calm.

"I think my best talent as a coach is I have a pulse for my players ... I have a pretty good feel for whether I need to act like a fool or not ..."

Butler in Big East

Butler will be joining Marquette in the Big East next season, so have the schools jump-started their rivalry by playing in the Maui Invitational in November and in the NCAA Tournament in March?

"I think you need a few more years of games before you really delve into the rivalry question," Butler Coach Brad Stevens said.

Stevens did add that the most important aspect of a rivalry "is great respect between the institutions, and I don't think there's any doubt that would be the case" between Butler and Marquette.

Marquette Coach Buzz Williams said he's happy to see not only Butler, but also Creighton and Xavier join the Big East.

"Coach (Greg) McDermott has done an incredible job at Creighton. Chris Mack (at Xavier) has been to three Sweet 16s in his short tenure.

"All those teams bring something to the league. I think it changes the ambiance of the league for sure."

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