INDIANAPOLIS – The speed. The quickness. The penchant for causing chaos and mayhem. The ability to take a manageable game and turn it into a blowout in a matter of seconds.
Yeah, Dana Altman and his Oregon Ducks know exactly what they’re up against with Louisville and that hair-on-fire defense. They’ve been watching the Oregon football team wreak the same kind of havoc for years now.
“It’s almost the same situation that our football team runs into when teams are trying to get ready for them. They play so much faster and their team speed is different,” Altman said Thursday. “I don’t think teams can really get ready for our football team. … And I don’t think we can prepare for the speed of Louisville: their quickness, their guard quickness, their overall team speed and the different looks they throw at you.
“They beat people up mentally as much as physically,” Altman added. “If you’re not focused, if you make a mistake, they get those runs that they just turn a game around.”
The 12th-seeded Ducks (28-8) reached the regional semifinals for the first time since 2007, and their reward is a date tonight with Louisville.
The Cardinals (31-5) looked every bit the overall top seed in their first two games, routing North Carolina A&T and Colorado State by an average of 28.5 points while forcing 47 turnovers. Both the Aggies and Rams finished with more turnovers than field goals, and Louisville outrebounded Colorado State — no minor stat against a team that had both the nation’s best rebounding margin and the top rebounding tandem in Colton Iverson and Pierce Hornung.
When it comes to college basketball, coaching chess matches don’t get much better than Mike Krzyzewski vs. Tom Izzo.
Two of the nation’s most successful coaches are squaring off in tonight’s semifinal.
Krzyzewski has an NCAA record 956 career wins and four national championships at Duke, winning two titles in Indianapolis. Tom Izzo has a school-record 493 wins and one national title at Michigan State.
Both coaches have winning percentages of .736 or better in the tourney. Krzyzewski’s 11 Final Four appearances are the most of any active coach. Izzo is tied for third with six.
“I consider him a great friend. There’s nothing about Tom that I don’t think is good. If we lose to them, believe me, I’ll hug him and shake his hand, and he’ll do the same for me. I like that,” said Krzyzewski, the NCAA Division I record-holder with 956 career wins. “I think it’s more the way it used to be in coaching, and probably we both have great teachers in that regard and were brought up a certain way where we understand the game is bigger than anybody.”