News and Tribune

March 20, 2014

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Louisville’s Pitino criticizes NCAA for matchup

Cards open against Masiello, Jaspers

By MARK LONG
The Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — Louisville coach Rick Pitino had no problem with his team’s NCAA tournament seeding. It was the pairing that drew his ire.

Pitino criticized the selection committee Wednesday for pitting his fourth-seeded and defending national champion Cardinals against 13th-seeded Manhattan, which is coached by Pitino’s former assistant, Steve Masiello. Louisville and Manhattan open tournament play Thursday night in the Midwest Region.

“I think the pairings sometimes lack common sense,” Pitino said. “I don’t think they would put somewhere down the road Duke-North Carolina so ... the matchups don’t make sense to me. I’m OK with the seedings. I’m not OK with the matchups.

“But the selection committee is very fair, very honorable, very honest people, so I can’t protest too much because they’re doing the best job that they can do. Maybe they’re a bunch of soccer ADs, I don’t know.”

Masiello served as Pitino’s ball boy with the NBA’s New York Knicks in the 1980s, played for him at Kentucky (1996-1997) and then spent another six years coaching alongside him at Louisville (2005-11). They know each other inside and out, with Masiello molding Manhattan to mirror the Cardinals.

Pitino said the matchup is tougher than when Louisville got paired against Florida and coach Billy Donovan, who also played and coached for Pitino, in a 2012 regional final.

“We press like him, we trap like him, his offensive sets are just like ours,” Pitino said. “That’s why I don’t like the game. I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t like it. I don’t know why they would do it. I just don’t like the game at all for either one of us. We won the national championship and obviously we’re more heralded, but this is anybody’s game. This is not a 1-16.”

Masiello was equally disappointed in the pairing.

“To see them come up and then see us come up against them, it takes a little fun out of it,” Masiello said. “It’s just, that’s not fun for me going against someone that I have to now try to beat, and almost in my mind, think negatively about. It’s hard for me to do that.”

Aside from the student-teacher matchup, here are five things to know about Manhattan and Louisville:



• SEEDING SURPRISE: The Cardinals insisted they weren’t surprised by getting a No. 4 seed, which was widely panned as being too low for the defending national champs.

Nonetheless, guard Russ Smith said he understood why outsiders raised eyebrows when the brackets were announced. “Not beating around the bush, but we’ve dominated our last few weeks of basketball since the loss to Memphis,” Smith said. “We’ve been winning by a good margin. When you initially look at the University of Louisville, you see they’ve been winning by 20 or 30 or 50, they should be a 1 or 2 seed. But as an overall whole, we understood what our body of work was like.”



• MIRROR IMAGES: Having watched Louisville win the national title last year, the Jaspers noticed a thing or two about their style of play. And it looked really familiar.

“Our philosophy is based after Louisville,” guard Michael Alvarado said. “We’re like them, but they’re on steroids pretty much. We both press, we both have similar philosophies and the better team is going to win.”

Manhattan guard George Beamon called Louisville their “big brother,” adding that “we pride ourselves on being a mirror image of them.”



• ONE DIFFERENCE: There was one major difference that Pitino pointed out between himself and his protégé, Masiello: “He wears ridiculous suits. Outside of that, we’re one and the same. He must go to Madison Avenue and just come out with the newest things all the time. I don’t know where he gets the tuxedo look with the roundabout lapels and everything. He’s hanging around Little Italy too much.”



• BIG APPLE: Having grown up in New York City, Masiello is a proud New Yorker, and nothing would please him more than to keep a team from the Big Apple in the Big Dance.

“We’re representing the greatest city in the world in the greatest sports event, which is March Madness, in the world,” he said. “We have a lot of Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island kids, so our makeup is New York kids, and now we have a chance to represent that and kind of have the city on our back. That’s awesome.”



• LAST MEETING: It’s been 16 months since Manhattan and Louisville last played. The Jaspers can only hope to have more success this time around. The Cardinals thumped Manhattan 79-51 in Louisville on Nov. 11, 2012. Each team has seven players and three starters remaining from that matchup, which Louisville dominated from start to finish. Smith finished with 23 points and five steals.

FIRST ROUND

At Dayton, Ohio

Tuesday, March 18


    Albany (N.Y.) 71, Mount St. Mary’s 64

    N.C. State 74, Xavier 59

Wednesday, March 19

    Cal Poly 81, Texas Southern 69

    Tennessee 78, Iowa 65 (OT)



EAST REGIONAL

Second Round

Thursday, March 20

At Buffalo, N.Y
.

    UConn (26-8) vs. Saint Joseph’s (24-9), 6:55 p.m.

    Villanova (28-4) vs. Milwaukee (21-13), 30 minutes following

At Spokane, Wash.

    Cincinnati (27-6) vs. Harvard (26-4), 2:10 p.m.

    Michigan State (26-8) vs. Delaware (25-9), 30 minutes following

Friday, March 21

At Raleigh, N.C.


    Memphis (23-9) vs. George Washington (24-8), 6:55 p.m.

    Virginia (28-6) vs. Coastal Carolina (21-12), 30 minutes following

At San Antonio

    North Carolina (23-9) vs. Providence (23-11), 7:20 p.m.

    Iowa State (26-7) vs. North Carolina Central (28-5), 30 minutes following

Third Round

Saturday, March 22

At Buffalo, N.Y.


    Villanova-Milwaukee winner vs. UConn-Saint Joseph’s winner

At Spokane, Wash.

    Michigan State-Delaware winner vs. Cincinnati-Harvard winner

Sunday, March 23

At Raleigh, N.C.

    Virginia-Coastal Carolina winner vs. Memphis-George Washington winner

At San Antonio

    Iowa State-North Carolina Central winner vs. North Carolina-Providence winner

Regional Semifinals

At New York

Friday, March 28


    Villanova-Milwaukee—UConn-Saint Joseph’s winner vs. Iowa State-North Carolina Central—North Carolina-Providence winner

    Michigan State-Delaware—Cincinnati-Harvard winner vs. Virginia-Coastal Carolina—Memphis-George Washington winner

Regional Championship

Sunday, March 30


    Semifinal winners



SOUTH REGIONAL

Second Round

Thursday, March 20

At Buffalo, N.Y.


    Ohio State (25-9) vs. Dayton (23-10), 12:15 p.m.

    Syracuse (27-5) vs. Western Michigan (23-9), 30 minutes following

At Orlando, Fla.

    Colorado (23-11) vs. Pittsburgh (25-9), 1:40 p.m.

    Florida (32-2) vs. Albany (N.Y.) (19-14), 30 minutes following

Friday, March 21

At St. Louis


    New Mexico (27-6) vs. Stanford (21-12), 1:40 p.m.

    Kansas (24-9) vs. Eastern Kentucky (24-9), 30 minutes following

At San Diego

    VCU (26-8) vs. Stephen F. Austin (31-2), 7:27 p.m.

    UCLA (26-8) vs. Tulsa (21-12), 30 minutes following

Third Round

Saturday, March 22

At Buffalo, N.Y.


    Syracuse-Western Michigan winner vs. Ohio State-Dayton winner

At Orlando, Fla.

    Florida-Albany (NY) winner vs. Colorado-Pittsburgh winner

Sunday, March 23

At St. Louis

    Kansas-Eastern Kentucky winner vs. New Mexico-Stanford winner

At San Diego

    UCLA-Tulsa winner vs. VCU-Stephen F. Austin winner

Regional Semifinals

At Memphis, Tenn.

Thursday, March 27


    Syracuse-Western Michigan—Ohio State-Dayton winner vs. Kansas-Eastern Kentucky—New Mexico-Stanford winner

    Florida-Albany (NY)—Colorado-Pittsburgh winner vs. UCLA-Tulsa—VCU-Stephen F. Austin winner

Regional Championship

Saturday, March 29


    Semifinal winners



MIDWEST REGIONAL

Second Round

Thursday, March 20

At Orlando, Fla.


    Saint Louis (26-6) vs. N.C. State (22-13), 7:20 p.m

    Louisville (29-5) vs. Manhattan (25-7), 30 minutes following

At Milwaukee

    Michigan (25-8) vs. Wofford (20-12), 7:10 p.m.

    Texas (23-10) vs. Arizona State (21-11), 30 minutes following

Friday, March 21

At Raleigh, N.C.


    Duke (26-8) vs. Mercer (26-8), 12:15 p.m.

    UMass (24-8) vs. Tennessee (22-12), 30 minutes following

At St. Louis

    Wichita State (34-0) vs. Cal Poly (14-19), 7:10 p.m.

    Kentucky (24-10) vs. Kansas State (20-12), 30 minutes following

Third Round

Saturday, March 22

At Orlando, Fla.


    Louisville-Manhattan winner vs. Saint Louis-N.C. State winner

At Milwaukee

    Michigan-Wofford winner vs. Texas-Arizona State winner

Sunday, March 23

At Raleigh, N.C.


    Duke-Mercer winner vs. UMass-Tennessee winner

At St. Louis

    Wichita State-Cal Poly winner vs. Kentucky-Kansas State winner

Regional Semifinals

At Indianapolis

Friday, March 28


    Wichita State-Cal Poly—Kentucky-Kansas State winner vs. Louisville-Manhattan—Saint Louis-N.C. State winner

    Michigan-Wofford—Texas-Arizona State winner vs. Duke-Mercer—UMass-Tennessee winner

Regional Championship

Sunday, March 30


    Semifinal winners



WEST REGIONAL

Second Round

Thursday, March 20

At Milwaukee


    Wisconsin (26-7) vs. American (20-12), 12:40 p.m.

    Oregon (23-9) vs. BYU (23-11), 30 minutes following

At Spokane, Wash.

    Oklahoma (23-9) vs. North Dakota State (25-6), 7:27 p.m.

    San Diego State (29-4) vs. New Mexico State (26-9), 30 minutes following

Friday, March 21

At San Antonio


    Baylor (24-11) vs. Nebraska (19-12), 12:40 p.m.

    Creighton (26-7) vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (23-11), 30 minutes following

At San Diego

    Arizona (30-4) vs. Weber State (19-11), 2:10 p.m.

    Gonzaga (28-6) vs. Oklahoma State (21-12), 30 minutes following

Third Round

Saturday, March 22

At Milwaukee


    Wisconsin-American winner vs. Oregon-BYU winner

At Spokane, Wash.

    San Diego State-New Mexico State winner vs. Oklahoma-North Dakota State winner

Sunday, March 23

At San Antonio


    Creighton-Louisiana-Lafayette winner vs. Baylor-Nebraska winner

At San Diego

    Arizona-Weber State winner vs. Gonzaga-Oklahoma State winner

Regional Semifinals

At Anaheim, Calif.

Thursday, March 27


    Wisconsin-American—Oregon-BYU winner vs. Creighton-Louisiana-Lafayette—Baylor-Nebraska winner

    San Diego State-New Mexico State—Oklahoma-North Dakota State winner vs. Arizona-Weber State—Gonzaga-Oklahoma State winner

Regional Championship

Saturday, March 29

    Semifinal winners



FINAL FOUR

At Arlington, Texas

National Semifinals

Saturday, April 5


    East champion vs. South champion

    Midwest champion vs. West champion

National Championship

Monday, April 7


    Semifinal winners