When seeing the game’s score flash today for the first time, the first thought regarding a Louisville/North Carolina game was “wow, that’s a terrific non-conference contest, especially in January.”
Of course, we know Louisville is in the ACC now, but it’s still hard to picture unless we’re actually watching it. For those of us who grew up on college hoops in the 1980’s and 90’s, Louisville will always belong in the Metro Conference with city school mates like Memphis and Cincinnati, but that’s another story for another day. Conference USA was a reasonable fit for a while, the Big East worked because of how much success the Cardinals had in it, and even the AAC had some Metro-feel to it.
As it is, Louisville is about as Atlantic coast as it was old-school Big East, which is to say not much at all. You have to really squint to see it, so, just like Louisville in the Big East was, it’s going to be an acquired taste. That said, continued success and involvement in terrific games will assimilate the Cards in our hearts and minds as an ACC school quite quickly.
We know Louisville was added to the ACC primarily for football purposes, but the game between the Tar Heels and Cardinals was exactly what many were hoping for when the Cardinals joined a league that looks so beefy on paper. The game was close throughout, and the only time one team briefly pulled away-Louisville led by 13 with 8:43 to play-the other reeled them right back in, setting the stage for a terrific finish in which Marcus Paige scored the winning basket on a floater, leaner, scoop, really long layup-call it what you want, but those who saw it will remember it for some time.
It’s only three weeks until the rematch between these two (and blessedly, there is a rematch; this is one series this year not getting a haircut because of oversized-conference unbalanced schedules). More games like Saturday’s-and with the star-studded basketball lineup the ACC now has, they’re bound to happen sooner than later-and it won’t take long at all to get comfortable with Louisville in its new digs.
- Phil Kasiecki has a recap of many of the day’s big games with his Saturday notes
- Among Saturday’s other happenings, one of the stories was a fight between Air Force and Colorado State. CSU’s J.J. Avila and Air Force’s Zach Kocur got wrapped up chasing a rebound, and tempers flared. Three technicals were issued and AFA’s Matt Mooney was ejected. After order was restored, the Rams went on to a 92-87 win to snap their two-game losing streak.
Some other side notes from the day:
- Wake Forest became the first team all season to outrebound Georgia Tech in its 76-69 win over the Yellow Jackets.
- Most entertaining game of the day: Northwestern State nips Incarnate Word 103-101 as DeVonte Hall goes coast-to-coast for the winner with :00.3 left. UIW’s Denzel Livingston scored 37; the Demons’ Jalan West tallied 32 and Zeek Woodley added 28.
- On the other hand, if you like your scoring low and your rim paint chipped, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville outslugged Tennessee State 45-38. The two teams combined to shoot 30 of 99, a shade over 30%.
- Another game-winner: Casey Jones drilled a trey with two seconds left in overtime to give Tennessee-Chattanooga a 74-71 win over East Tennessee State. Good to see these two in the same conference again.
- LSU came back from nine points down in the first overtime to beat Georgia 87-84 in two overtimes. Huge bounce back for the Tigers. The Bulldogs may rue losing this one for a long time.
- William & Mary’s Terry Tarpey is one of the most underrated all-around players in the country and should be on anyone’s “glue guy” list. It’s not hyperbole. Tarpey is a stat sheet stuffer and now owner of the first triple-double in Tribe history (18 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and for those who have followed his play, the 18 points is probably the most remarkable part). W&M defeated rival James Madison 81-73.
- Indiana State stayed perfect in the MVC, coming back from 14 down in the second half on the road at Southern Illinois. The Sycamores-4-8 out of conference-are now 4-0 in conference after a 59-56 win over the Salukis.
- Even more stunning comeback: Miami (Ohio) trailed a good Eastern Michigan team by 19 at halftime but came back for an 82-81 overtime win.
- Fresno State has come on a bit after a bad start to the season. More specifically, Marvelle Harris has come on. Harris scored 40 in the Bulldogs’ 69-66 win at Nevada, and he is making a serious run at Mountain West player of the year honors.
Duke at N.C. State (1:30 p.m. EST, CBS) The way Mississippi and Texas A&M nearly knocked off Kentucky, that’s the same way one can picture the Wolfpack possibly taking down the Blue Devils here.
Wichita State at Loyola (Ill.) (5 p.m. EST, ESPNU) One of the biggest games at Loyola in perhaps 30 years. The Ramblers have been a very pleasant surprise in their second year in the MVC, and now at the peak of their renaissance they get a shot at the Shockers at home.
Stanford at USC (10 p.m. EST, ESPNU), Arizona at Oregon State (10 p.m. EST, FS1) A pair of second-division Pac-12 clubs on the rise are at home on national TV.
Illinois at Nebraska (8:30 p.m. EST, BTN) Important for the Illini to back up their good win over Maryland as soon as possible.
California at UCLA (7:30 p.m. EST, FS1) See previous and apply for Bruins after their win over Stanford.
Have a terrific Sunday.