When the Big East Champion Louisville Cardinals (30-9) square off tonight at 6:05 EDT against the top ranked Kentucky Wildcats (36-2) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, there won't be much mystery. The two Bluegrass State foes have played each other yearly since 1983, including New Year's Eve in Lexington.
A factor in the outcome is likely to be the play of the Cardinal's Peyton Siva. Despite some struggles earlier in he season, his coach is confident in his junior point guard.
"He's definitely turned the corner, because he's very talented,'' said [Rick] Pitino, who has likened Siva to Billy Donovan, the highest compliment he can give one of his players.
''He's the same type of person and very few guys like that I've met in 35 years,'' Pitino added. ''Peyton is extremely humble, extremely hard working, do anything. And he just had too many turnovers in the beginning of the year because he was playing at too fast a pace. Now he's got it back.''
His opponents are wary of him too. Said Kentucky's freshman point guard Marquis Teague of Louisville's Peyton Siva:
"He's got them clicking on all cylinders.... He's making plays for the big guys and outside shooters.... I'll try to keep him out of the lane as much as I can. We'd rather him score than make plays for everybody else and get everybody warm."
Though Louisville is not favored against the Wildcats, Pitino is not allowing his players to consider themselves underdogs:
"We've cut the nets down twice and I don't want my guys to feel they're inferior to Kentucky because they go on the [NBA] draft board all the time. You won't want that feeling going into it because you'll play like inferior players."
With their Big East experience, his players seem confident. Says senior Kyle Kuric:
"You play against so many different teams and styles of play in the Big East that you’re really prepared for any kind of style – fast, slow, press [or] not, zone or whatever. We get a lot of different feels from a lot of different teams. So we’re pretty battle tested coming [into] this tournament."
The Cardinal's sophomore center Gorgui Dieng adds:
"If you play in the Big East you won’t face anything that scares you. "They’re going to get you ready for the tournament."
In other Big East news ...
Marquette's Jae Crowder put up 25 points yesterday in Reese’s College All-Star game. Temple's Ramone Moore had 15 points and had nine rebounds for the victorious East squad.
After a lean 2011 season at the linebacker position, UConn defensive coordinator Don Brown is counting on some depth at linebacker this fall:
"Several times I would walk onto the field and say ‘Bro, you got to get up, there is no one to come in for you.’ It was get up and go."
Stay tuned to Big East Coast Bias for news and commentary – without apology – on Big East Conference basketball and football.