ORLANDO, Fla. —
• 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.”