Saturday, March 23, 2013
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Gwinnett Daily Post
Preview: Colorado State vs. Louisville
Top-seeded Louisville backed up its claim as the hottest team in the NCAA Tournament with a dominant showing in its opening game, but No. 8 seed Colorado State also is coming off an overpowering performance as the teams get set to clash in the Midwest Regional quarterfinals Saturday in Lexington, Ky. The Cardinals rolled past North Carolina A&T 79-48 on Thursday for their 11th consecutive win, notching their 30th victory in the process, and had the luxury of resting their starters for much of the second half. The Rams had to exert a bit more effort to hold off Missouri 84-72, the program's first victory in the NCAA Tournament since 1989.
Perhaps the most impressive part of Colorado State's opening performance is the fact it came with leading scorer Colton Iverson in foul trouble. The Minnesota transfer grabbed 13 rebounds, but was limited to four points. He will need to be more of a factor at the offensive end against the Cardinals. Louisville has been outstanding since a three-game losing streak in January, winning 14 of its last 15 with the setback a five-overtime loss at Notre Dame on Feb. 9. The winner will face No. 4 seed Saint Louis or No. 12 Oregon on Friday in the Sweet 16 in Indianapolis.
TV: 5:15 p.m. ET, CBS
ABOUT COLORADO STATE (26-8): The Rams probably shouldn't expect things to go as smoothly at the offensive end as they did against Missouri - Colorado State shot 49 percent while rolling up the program's highest scoring total in an NCAA Tournament game, but said they are well-equipped to handle Louisville's pressing defense. "We're going to prepare for that," guard Jon Octeus said. "We've done a good job of pressuring each other. I think we'll be able to handle all the pressure they bring." The biggest advantage the Rams have against the Cardinals is their prowess on the boards. Colorado State ranks fourth in the nation in rebounding (40.5) and leads the nation in opponents' rebounds (28.1), creating the No. 1 rebounding margin in the country.
ABOUT LOUISVILLE (30-5): The Cardinals have turned up the defensive intensity during their winning streak, and coach Rick Pitino has harped on the number of deflections his team has produced. Pitino said the 58 deflections against Villanova in the Big East tournament marked a record for one of his teams, but the Cardinals shattered that with 67 on Thursday. "We all know what defense can do," guard Russ Smith said. "It got us to the Final Four last year. So we just stay solid and just keep playing our defense." Smith also led an impressive offensive performance against the Aggies, scoring 23 points as the Cardinals shot a season-best 57.4 percent.
1. Louisville is 42-8 all-time as the higher seed in NCAA Tournament games, but 5-11 as a No. 1 seed.
2. Colorado State is 20-2 when scoring 70 or more points and has the same record when leading at halftime.
3. The Cardinals are 26-0 this season when leading at halftime.
PREDICTION: Louisville 71, Colorado State 64