With Senate Republican Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) clad in red in the Louisville section and his almost opponent Ashley Judd apparently cheering somewhere, the Cardinals became the third Big East team to lead by double digits for most of the game and make the Elite 8. The eliminated the last Pac12 team, Oregon, but not until a great rally in the final six minutes that was hampered by an Arsalan Kazemi’s injuring his calf just as the Ducks were on the verge of challenging.
The only other conference with a chance to have three teams in the Elite 8 is the Big Ten. Shortly after Louisville’s win concluded, Breitbart Sports National Player of the Year Trey Burke hit a 30-footer for Michigan to force overtime en route to a win that means if Michigan State beats Duke Friday night they would both join Ohio State in the Elite 8.
Kazemi registered a double-double (11 points, 12 rebounds) and great defensive play, including a dunk with 6:22 to play to pull Oregon within single digits at 68-60. After Russ Smith (31 points) answered, Kazemi went to the basket again to draw a foul on Gorgui Dieng to make it 70-62. However, he injured his calf on as he came to the floor.
Kazemi tried to shake off the injury, but was hampered as he missed the free throw. However, he hustled full speed to get his own rebound and Oregon called time out. Unfortunately for Oregon, Kazemi had to go to the bench and have the calf worked on for a few crucial minutes, not coming back in until Louisville had taken a 74-64 lead on a dunk by Chane Behanan off a Wayne Blackshear steal.
Despite a couple of more rebounds by Kazemi, Oregon did not cut it back to single digits again until a layup with 27 seconds left provided the final 77-69 margin for Louisville.
One reason Louisville had a much higher rating than Oregon was the experienced backcourt of Smith and Peyton Siva. Still, the freshman backcourt of Dominic Artis and Damyean Dotson shows the future is very bright for the Ducks, as they each scored 12 points and, more importantly, withstood vicious pressure from Louisville to help the Ducks actually commit fewer turnovers than Louisville.