Rick Pitino Wasn’t Surprised Louisville Got The No.1 Overall Seed And Compares This Cardinals Team To His 1996 Kentucky TeamMarch 21, 2013 – 8:15 am by Steven Cuce
There was way too much parity during the regular season of college basketball, but Rick Pitino’s team came away with the top seed in the NCAA tournament. Louisville won the Big East tournament last weekend and will now play North Carolina A&T today at 6:50 PM (ET).
The Cardinals head coach was not surprised by the No.1 overall seed and seems to have a quiet confidence about his team heading into the Big Dance.
Rick Pitino joined The Mighty 1090 in San Diego with Scott and BR to discuss being the No.1 overall seed in the NCAA tournament, the Louisville Cardinals being a grounded team, Louisville going to the ACC after next season, playing in a super conference in the new ACC and preparing for multiple opponents in the tournament.
Were you surprised that the No.1 overall seed was yours?
“I thought we would win the – we were on a good run. We won seven straight. I thought with the strength of schedule and winning the regular season in the Big East, which was sharing it with Marquette and Georgetown and then winning the conference tournament, the last one in Madison Square Garden. I thought we would be a number one seed just based on strength of schedule. I knew we would be a one seed either way. I thought we would be the No.1 of No.1.’s if we won the Big East tournament and we did. I am very, very proud of our guys. It doesn’t guarantee you anything. It doesn’t mean a whole lot, but it’s a good accomplishment in the regular season.”
Do you find it difficult to get your guys fired up against the first round play-in opponent?
“My team is pretty grounded. When we lost three straight I said, ‘Listen guys don’t lament over this. Don’t get down about this. Everybody goes through peaks and valleys during the season. Let’s make it a goal that we win the next seven go into Madison Square Garden and win the last Big East tournament. If we do we’ll probably share the regular season title and we’ll have something special.’ This team is pretty grounded like my 1996 team in Kentucky with seven NBA players on it. I think they know who they are and I think they are pretty grounded.”
What happens with Louisville? Are you going to the ACC?
“We have one more year in I guess what will be called ‘The America 12,’ and then we’ll be going to the ACC.”
Are you pleased with going to the ACC? Does it help you?
“I think it’s going to be the best of the Big East and the best of the ACC coming together to form one super conference that’s going to be quite special. When you think about it you have Duke, North Carolina. You have Virginia, Notre Dame, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Florida State, Miami. It’s really, really special and they are all coming together to form this super conference, so I think it’ll be unique and it’s going to be very, very competitive. To me, I’ve never coached in Cameron Indoor Stadium. I’ve never coached at Virginia and never coached at Miami. So for some of those places it’ll be quite special.”
How do you prepare for this? Are you looking past the first game you are going to play?
“Not really, but I have already watched Colorado State and I have watched many games of Missouri. We played them early in the year. That conference could be the best conference in all of basketball this year. Colorado State has five seniors and they are extremely well coached as is San Diego State, Las Vegas. That whole conference is as strong I have seen a conference. They are not certainly anything, but the best conference in basketball right now. I’ve watched them and I am really impressed and the only reason I have is because I don’t know who we are going to play, so as we are speaking I know I have Liberty and North Carolina A & T on right now. We’ll start to prepare for them once this game ends.”