Though Louisville played without seniors David Padgett and Juan Palacios, BYU earned a 78-76 win because of the inside-outside duo of Trent Plaisted and Jonathan Tavernari. While the 6-11 Plaisted posted 21 points and 12 rebounds, the 6-6 Tavernari nailed five three-pointers on his way to 29 points.
David Padgett against the Broncos.
"This team is a carbon-copy of BYU. As a matter of fact they beat BYU," said Pitino. "They probably will be the best three-point shooting team we will face and they have a terrific low-post game. They are outstanding in transition. They are a heck of an offensive basketball team."
Boise State averaged over 80 points per game this season and finished the season ranked second nationally in field goal percentage (50.9 percent). The Broncos are led by forwards Reggie Larry (19.6 points), Matt Nelson (15.6) and Tyler Tiedeman (14).
"I'm most concerned about their low-post game," said Pitino. "They make you pay when you double team them. And if you single coverage them they make you pay, too. They are a good passing team and average 18 assists."
Boise State earned their place in the NCAA's with a 107-102 triple-overtime win over New Mexico State and former Louisville assistant Marvin Menzies. Pitino said the Cardinals are very familiar with the way the Broncos like to play.
"I actually watched that game," Pitino said. "We've watched them play five or six times."
Boise State is a veteran team and will have four seniors in the starting lineup Friday night against Louisville. Though Greg Graham can go 8 or 9 deep on his bench, he essentially relies on his five starters, who all average at least 28 minutes per game.
"They are a very deep and talented team," Pitino said. "They are a veteran ball club and it's as tough a first-round matchup since I've been a coach."
"We feel great about our team," Pitino said. "We played a very difficult schedule. Even in our losses – the other night against Pittsburgh – we played great. In overtime, we took four challenged shots which got us behind eventually led to our demise."
Pitino says there will be two keys for Louisville to win against Boise State and advance to the second round to face either Oklahoma or St. Joe's: Staying away from challenged shots and stopping the Broncos in transition.
"One of our weaknesses has always been transition defense and it can't be against Boise State or we'll have the same result as we had against BYU," Pitino said. "BYU beat us because our transition defense was poor. They are a good transition team because they rebound well. They push it like Carolina pushes it. They are at half court before you know it."
But the Cardinals should be prepared for Boise's up-tempo approach, particularly after playing BYU earlier this season and in an extremely diverse league like the Big East.
"I think our schedule has prepared us for anything that we will face," Pitino said.
For Louisville, the most important factor might be taking good, open shots. In their eight losses this season, Pitino places blame for each defeat on taking too many challenged shots. Pitino said the Cardinals took 10 challenged shots – four in overtime - against Pittsburgh in their last outing that led to their downfall.
"Boise State is going to be a transition game and we're going to run up and down with them and it's important that we execute and don't take challenged shots," Pitino said. "They're a team that can make challenged shots, we're not.