Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Louisville plays up underdog role

NEW ORLEANS — Louisville has relished being the underdog, so much so that coach Jeff Walz doesn't want to hear about how it has that team-of-destiny air entering the Final Four.

Yet, is there any other way to see it? Louisville beat Brittney Griner and defending national champ Baylor, then Tennessee, the most storied program in the sport. Surely it can't be the underdog against Final Four newcomer California in tonight's semifinals.

"No one expects us to win now," Walz said. "I know we won two games, but we're seeded fifth. And if they expected us to win, we'd be seeded second or third. (Cal) is a team that's 32-3, that beat Stanford. They're a great basketball team, so we're going to have to figure out a way."

And though destiny might be on Louisville's side, history is not. No team seeded lower than fourth has won a semifinal.

The Bears were the No. 2 seed in the Spokane Region and did not face their Pac-12 rival, top-seeded Stanford. Georgia took care of the Cardinal in the region semifinal.

Neither Cal nor Louisville was widely expected to make it this far, although President Barack Obama saw something in the Bears when he placed them in his Final Four bracket. Now Louisville or Cal will have a spot in the final.

"I definitely agree that a lot has to go right in order to get to this point," Bears coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "But I also think there's a huge impact that our players have in making things go right. The teams that were in front of us at each stage were really formidable."

In the other semifinal, UConn faces a Notre Dame team to which it has lost in seven of their past eight matchups, including last season's semifinals.

"We're in a familiar place, fortunately," said Huskies coach Geno Auriemma, a seven-time national champion whose team once beat the Irish 12 consecutive times. "And we have a familiar opponent, unfortunately. I do believe there's a mental part to it, to a certain extent.

"When we beat them 12 in a row, I'm sure that wasn't all physical. When you beat a team a number of times, you feel a certain confidence. And when you've been on the other end of that, there is more cause for concern."

Notre Dame has won all three previous matchups this season. But the wins were by one, two and nine points, the nine-point game being in triple overtime.

"We've done some really great things at the end of the game to win … whether it was a defensive stop or a huge basket or something good," Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. "We certainly would hope that karma continues."

Honors: Griner was named the Associated Press player of the year. Only Griner, LSU's Seimone Augustus and Tennessee's Chamique Holds­claw have won the award two straight seasons. Griner, who averaged 23.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.1 blocks, earned 37 of 40 votes from a media panel. McGraw was named coach of the year. McGraw, whose team has won 30 in a row, received 24 votes.

.Fast facts

Final Four

When/where: Today, New Orleans Arena

TV/radio: ESPN; 1010-AM

• Louisville

vs. California, 6:36

• Notre Dame vs. Connecticut, 9:15

National

championship

8:30 Tuesday

TV/radio: ESPN; 1010-AM

Louisville plays up underdog role 04/06/13 [Last modified: Saturday, April 6, 2013 11:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Kids still playing for all the marbles — literally

    Human Interest

    In this world of pompous athletes, overbearing coaches, money-grubbing owners and a win-at-all-costs mindset, it's easy to become jaded.

    Eli Murphy, right, leans in to give Sierra Ricci the traditional king and queen kiss at the National Marbles Championship in Wildwood, N.J. Both of Allegheny County Pa., they won the girls and boys championship of the 94th annual National Marbles Tournament. [Associated Press]
  2. Lightning takes defenseman Cal Foote with top pick in draft

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — Former Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote said his son Cal lived in the locker room.

    Cal Foote, second from left, is welcomed to the Lightning by GM Steve Yzerman, far left.
  3. It's Rays' turn to pound Orioles pitching (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG - Ah, the fantastic four.

    The Rays smashed the reeling Orioles 15-5 on Friday, scoring a season-high in runs, to climb four games above .500 for the first time since July 1, 2015.

    Rays third baseman Evan Longoria scores on a triple by Logan Morrison during the first inning against the Orioles.
  4. Lightning journal: Plans set for 25th anniversary season

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — The Lightning revealed some of its plans for its 25th anniversary season Friday, including a ceremony to honor the 2004 Stanley Cup team.

    fit test: Top draft pick Cal Foote puts on his Lightning jersey.
  5. Rays designate catcher Derek Norris for assignment

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — C Derek Norris tied a career-high with three hits in Friday's 15-5 win against the Orioles then was designated for assignment after the game to make room on the 25-man roster for C Wilson Ramos.

    Derek Norris, right, celebrates with Logan Morrison as he scores in what could be his last game with the Rays.