Sweet 16 berth at stake for Cards

No. 1 seed Louisville (29-5) will play No. 9 seed Siena (27-7) Sunday in the NCAA Tournament second round in Dayton. The winner advances to the Sweet 16 next week in Indianapolis.

Ohio State was expected to have the home court advantage over No. 1 seed Louisville Sunday in the NCAA Tournament second round at UD Arena. But the No. 8 seed Buckeyes didn't make it past round one, falling to No. 9 seed Siena 74-72 in double-overtime Friday night in the first round.

"I think it matters a lot," Louisville guard Jerry Smith said. "We definitely would have been in a hostile environment full of Ohio State fans. Seeing that Siena was able to pull it off, hopefully a lot of them will sell their tickets to Cards fans."

With the Buckeyes gone, Louisville will certainly have the crowd behind them for Sunday's second round matchup against Siena.

"We stayed up and watched the game," Smith said. "And when you say double overtime, I don't think it's much of an advantage for us because this is the NCAA Tournament and there's a lot of emotion that goes into it. They get a day off just like we do in between. So I don't think that double overtime is going to matter at all come Sunday.

"We watched a lot of film on them today, we know they have a great guard play. Their point guard is tremendous. He has like a 4 to 1 assist to turnover ratio, and we know the 2 guard is very, very aggressive. It's a short amount of time, but guys really have to lock in and be focused and be ready."

Siena's victory over higher-seeded Ohio State wasn't the only upset on the first day of action in the Midwest Regional. In fact, only the top-three seeds advanced with No. 4 seed Wake Forest losing to No. 13 seed Cleveland State and No. 5 seed Utah going down to No. 12 seed Arizona. That means Louisville would face either a No. 12 or 13 seed next week in the Regional Semifinals.


Louisville is preparing to play a tough
Siena squad in the NCAA second round.

But first - Louisville has to overcome a tough Siena team that found a way to knock off Ohio State in front of a partisan Buckeye crowd Friday night. Despite shooting just 33 percent and committing 21 turnovers, Siena advanced to the second round for the second straight season when Ronald Moore knocked in a three-pointer with time running out in double overtime.

"They've got terrific talent," Rick Pitino said. "And the good thing for Siena is most of these guys are coming back again. Siena has now joined the ranks of Xavier and Gonzaga in terms of the types of players they're getting and the type of talent they have.

"They all can go in the Big East and play. Siena could go into the Big East right now and be in the middle of the pack of the Big East and hold their own with any of us, obviously indicative of who they played. So they're a very good basketball team, and they got most of their players back, so they're going to be good and that's the key."

Louisville figures to be the fresher team on Sunday when the two teams hit the court. The Cardinals rolled to an easy 74-54 win over No. 16 Morehead State after leading by only two at halftime. Louisville turned up the defensive pressure on the Eagles after the break, forcing 20 turnovers – and making nine steals.

Except for committing 19 turnovers, the Cardinals performed well in their first game as the NCAA Tournament's No. 1 seed. Louisville made 58 percent of their shots, including 10 of 24 from beyond the arch. The Cards also had 19 assists while limiting the Eagles to only 38 percent shooting.

If Siena's play against Ohio State's zone defense is an indication – they made only 33 percent of their shots – the Saints could be in trouble against Louisville's active 2-3 zone. The Cardinals rely on constant full court pressure on the ball to generate steals and wear opponents down in the second half and are also stingy in their halfcourt zone defense because of their length and ability to hawk opposing guards in the backcourt.

Louisville's defensive acumen could be a recipe for disaster for a team that committed lots of turnovers and didn't shoot well against an Ohio State squad that played zone but didn't pressure nearly as much as the Cardinals will – especially after an emotional double-overtime thriller.

"The whole team impresses me," Pitino said. "They can all beat you off the bounce. Last night, their big guy had 16 and 15. They're very effective. They attack very well. Before you even can set up your press they're pushing the ball much like Connecticut up the sideline before you can set it up. They're an impressive group. They're terrific."

Not a deep team, all five of the starters for Siena played at least 44 minutes in the 2OT victory over Ohio State. Forward Edwin Ubiles led the Saints with 20 points and played 46 minutes, as did Moore, who finished will 11 points, including the final three-pointer. All five starters for Siena scored in double figures.

"We're two up tempo teams, and obviously we're going to try to turn each other over. They play a lot more 3 2 zone. We play a lot more 2 3 zone," Pitino said. "So it will be both teams going after each other. Both teams have good guard play, and it will be an interesting contest."

Louisville received balanced scoring against Morehead State with Samardo Samuels, Earl Clark and Terrence Williams leading the way. Samuels led the Cardinals with 15 points, while Williams added 13. Clark scored 12 points despite sitting most of the first half with foul problems. The Cardinals hope to use their depth and balance to their advantage against a tough Siena squad.

"They're basically like a carbon copy of us," said Preston Knowles. "But what we have to do, we can't fall into that run and gun match with them. We have to be the most aggressive team both offensively and defensively, so if we can do that and control the tempo and play Louisville basketball at the same time, I think we'll be all right."

Tip-off is scheduled for 5:20 and the game will be shown on CBS.


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