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Rick Pitino says he wants Kentucky to win national championship

So much for all the tension between Louisville and Kentucky. The Wildcats beat the Cardinals 69-61 Saturday to advance to the national championship game in New Orleans. After the loss, Louisville coach Rick Pitino said he was pulling for his in-state rival to win it all.

“I just said John [Calipari], `I’ll be pulling for you, bring the trophy back home to Kentucky. Sometimes there’s a lot of talk about these guys fighting, dialysis, there’s also really a lot of people that get along. … For those that have brains, they root for each other,” Pitino said.

“We like their basketball team; we hope they bring it home for the state.”

Whether he was being genuine is tough to say, but I don’t think he would have said that if he didn’t feel that way.

Louisville scored the first points of the game and that was the only time they led. Though they came within two with seven minutes left, Kentucky led by a comfortable margin most of the game. The Wildcats were simply the better team, and Louisville had no answer for Anthony Davis who went 7-8 for 18 points with 14 rebounds and five blocks. Not many teams have an answer for him; that’s why he was named the player of the year.

Photo Credit: Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Jim Nantz wore beads for the Final Four in New Orleans (Picture)

There’s only two ways to have beads in New Orleans: You either bought them at the store so you could distribute, or you lifted up your top and exposed your chest for the reward. Let’s just hope for everyone’s sake the former was the case for CBS announcer Jim Nantz.

H/T Jimmy Traina

John Calipari after Anthony Davis’ knee injury: ‘Get up mama’s boy’

Kentucky forward Anthony Davis banged knees with Baylor’s Perry Jones during the second half of the NCAA tournament game between the teams Sunday. Davis, who is considered to be the top player in the country, went down in pain and limped to his team’s bench after the collision. Though he was in pain, he didn’t miss much time. Maybe it’s because of the ribbing he received from his coach.

“No, the guys told me [the collision] was knee-to-knee. And I said ‘Get up mama’s boy, you’re fine. Come on, let’s go,'” John Calipari told CBS after the game.

Davis didn’t like being the butt of the joke, so he told CBS the knee injury really hurt.

“When you get hit knee-to-knee, it really shows a lot of pain. It really hurted but I went to the bench, and my team told me ‘We need you.’ Coach Cal told me ‘You’ll be fine, you’ll be fine.’ And he kissed me on the forehead, and I feel a lot better,” Davis said.

I thought Calipari calling Davis “mama’s boy” was pretty funny, but what seems to be gaining the most attention is Davis’ poor grammar. Some people defended him and thought he said “I really hurt it,” but most people heard “It really hurted.” I listened to the comment about 10 times and heard “hurted” each time, though he’s so muffled it’s hard to tell what he’s saying. If Davis doesn’t have a grammatical problem, then he definitely needs to work on his enunciation. He’ll likely be a top player at the next level so he might as well begin improving on his interviewing skills.

Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Notre Dame called for lane violation, loses comeback bid vs. Xavier

Notre Dame lost to Xavier in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Friday 67-63, and they lost on a questionable call by the refs. Guard Eric Atkins was at the free throw line for a one-and-one with 2.8 seconds and his team down 65-63. He made the first free throw, but it was waved off because the referee called a lane violation. Yup, the same lane violation that cost UNC Asheville against Syracuse on Thursday.

Guard Jerian Grant went from the backcourt and crossed the three-point line before the ball hit the rim, triggering the call. Instead of Atkins shooting for the tie, Xavier took the ball out, got fouled, and made two free throws to win it 67-63.

Even though the call is by the book, it’s not something that’s called during the regular season therefore it’s not something that should be called in the final 3 seconds with a game on the line. If you really want to go by the book, then the referees should be calling travels, carrying, and offensive or defensive fouls every other play. Some things you have to let go to keep the flow of the game, and this certainly was one of them.

Below is another look at the lane violation in slow-motion:

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Norfolk State upset left only two perfect brackets on ESPN

A day and a half passed before Norfolk State provided the first March Madness moment of the NCAA Tournament. The former Division II school became just the 5th No. 15 seed to upset a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament since expansion in 1985. They also wrecked nearly every bracket with the win, leaving just two perfect brackets out of the 6.45 million entered in ESPN’s Tournament Challenge.

Yup, out of all 68 teams in the draw, fewer people picked Norfolk State to win the whole thing than any other school (838). I’m honestly wondering who the 838 clowns were that did pick them to win it all. To give you an idea of how improbable the upset was, ESPN says there were 1,607 perfect brackets remaining before the game ended. 1,605 of the lucky geniuses were wiped out by Norfolk State.

A majority of the experts had Missouri in the Final Four, so their brackets are hurting, too.

A few other cool notes about Norfolk State are that they were a Division II school until the 1997-98 season, and they’ve only had three winning seasons since then. They also beat the No. 3 seed in their region, Marquette, back in November, though they lost to D-II’s Elizabeth City State that same month.

Just to make you feel better in case your brackets were pounded by Norfolk State, their star player, Kyle O’Quinn (pictured), says their upset even hurt his brackets.

“We messed up some brackets! We messed up some brackets!” he bellowed. “We even messed up my bracket.”

Shaka Smart had his players sign bracket showing VCU in Sweet 16 (Picture)

VCU was one of the stunning stories of last year’s NCAA Tournament when they reached the Final Four as a No. 11 seed. This year they’re a No. 12 seed, and a lot of people were calling their opponent — No. 5 seed Wichita State — “the VCU” of the tournament. That story didn’t last long as VCU beat Wichita St. 62-59 in the first round of the tournament Thursday.

Smart revealed after his team’s win that he used “the VCU” line as part of his speech to his squad to remind them nobody else was VCU. He also had all his players sign a bracket that showed VCU advancing to the Sweet 16 to help them visualize their preseason goal.

“When they signed, they’re saying, ‘I’m all in. I’m going to do everything it takes to accomplish this goal,'” Smart explained, per Jeff Eisenberg.

Some people may consider the tactic phony or lame, but I’m big on goal visualization. You have to see yourself doing something in order for it to happen, and that’s exactly what Smart is preaching. We’re seeing once again why Smart is one of the top coaches in the game, and why VCU’s prediction that they’re back to bust our brackets again may prove to be correct.

VCU will face No. 4 seed Indiana on Saturday.

Picture via Jeff Eisenberg

UNC Asheville screwed by refs in final minutes against Syracuse

Syracuse almost became the first No. 1 seed ever to lose to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but they avoided the upset thanks to some help from the referees.

Aside from a controversial goaltending call, the refs called a lane violation on UNC Asheville following Scoop Jardine’s miss on the first of a one-and-one. Because of the violation, Jardine got to attempt his free throw again and made both, turning a four-point game into a six-point lead 64-58 lead for Syracuse with a minute and a half left in the game. While the call was technically correct (a player not on a legal lane space cannot cross the free throw line until the ball hits the rim), it was a petty call that is hardly made.

Additionally, a ball went out of bounds off Syracuse in the final minute, but it was called off Asheville. Asheville was down by three points when the blown call occurred:

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