KANSAS CITY, Mo. — When the NCAA Tournament field was announced a couple weeks ago, Louisville coach Rick Pitino wasn't a whole lot different from millions of other fans.
He started poring over the bracket for potential upsets.
His eyes quickly settled on Wichita State.
"I was talking with my son," Pitino said Monday, "and I said I thought Wichita State had a great chance of being a surprise team to the Final Four. He asked me, 'Which teams would you think?' I said VCU and Wichita State. … I was very impressed with them."
Now, Pitino will have to figure out a way to beat them.
To get their first national championship since 1986, his top-seeded Cardinals have to get by a Wichita State team Saturday night that blitzed through Pittsburgh, knocked off another No. 1 seed in Gonzaga and ousted second-seeded Ohio State to reach the Final Four.
"Each game," Pitino said, "they looked better and better."
Pitino said there are some similarities between the Shockers and the Providence team that he led to the Final Four in 1987.
"I guess you would consider both Cinderella teams, but Wichita State has much more talent than we had at Providence," Pitino said of a Friars team that featured a young Billy Donovan.
RATINGS UP: Ratings for the region semifinals and finals were up 13 percent from last year. The games on CBS and TBS averaged a 7.0 rating and 14 share, up from a 6.2/12 last season. Ratings measure the percentage of American homes with televisions tuned into a program. Shares represent the percentage of those with TVs in use at the time.
REFS CHOSEN: The NCAA announced the pool of 10 officials who will work the Final Four. John Cahill, Tony Greene, Karl Hess, Lee Jones, John Higgins, Randy McCall and Mark Whitehead have all officiated Final Fours. Mike Eades, Doug Simmons and Terry Wymer will have a chance to work their first semifinal or championship game.