I don’t think it’s really hit me yet that Louisville will be playing in the Big East tournament championship tonight. In the last three days, we’ve seen the Louisville team we that we were looking for all season. The Cards just look like a much better team than their last three opponents. As I’ve stated ita number of times, Peyton Siva is the difference maker. When he plays at the level he’s playing at right now, Louisville is dangerous.
Louisville would have benefited more from playing Syracuse in the championship game, but winning the conference tournament regardless of the opponent is huge for the Cards resume. If Cincinnati plays like they did last night, Louisville will have their hands full. Cincinnati has now beaten Louisville three times in a row and should be pretty confident coming into tonight’s game.
If Louisville wins tonight, I think there is a possibility that they could get a 3-seed in the NCAA tournament. That would be huge considering where we were just two weeks ago.
Media Game Notes:
Siva has averaged 15 points, seven rebounds, six assists and 3.7 steals in his three games of the BIG EAST Championship. Siva’s nine assists marked the eighth time in his career that he has handed out as many.
Gorgui Dieng made all eight of his field goal attempts against Notre Dame in the BIG EAST Semifinals. It was the third best performance in a BIG EAST Tournament game after Craig Smith (Boston College vs. West Virginia; March 10, 2005) and Ricky Wright (Villanova vs. Boston College; March 8, 2001) both went 9-for-9 from the field. Dieng had 16 points, six rebounds and a blocked shot against the Irish.
The Cardinals have reached the championship game of the BIG EAST Championship for the third time in the last four years and second straight. In its seventh appearance in the BIG EAST Championship, Louisville has improved to 9-5 in the event. Louisville has won eight of its last 10 games in the tournament.
Louisville is 21-1 when leading with 5:00 to go in a game (loss to Notre Dame), 15-0 when scoring at least 70 points, 17-2 when shooting more free throws than its opponent, 8-0 when it makes more than seven three-point goals, 6- 0 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field, 19-5 when outscoring its opponents bench and 20-3 when leading at halftime.
Louisville holds a 53-42 advantage over Cincinnati in the series which dates back to 1921. Cincinnati has won the last three meetings, but Louisville has won six of the last 11 games.
Louisville last met the Bearcats in a conference championship game in 1981 when the Cards beat Cincinnati 42-31 for the Metro Conference Championship (3/7/81).
The Bearcats are making the school’s first appearance in the finals of the BIG EAST Championship. It marks UC’s first tournament finals appearance since the 2004 Conference USA Finals, a 55-50 win over DePaul on March 13, 2004.
The Bearcats have won nine of their last 11 games, including four against ranked foes.
The Bearcats have recorded a school-record seven wins over ranked teams this season, the most in the nation. UC is 7-3 overall against ranked teams.