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Louisville Is the Last No. 1 Seed Standing, Duke Moves Past MSU

Over in the South bracket, #1 Kansas went down against #4 Michigan in OT on Friday while #1 Louisville stayed alive in the Midwest bracket with a 77-69 win over #12 Oregon. The Cardinals are now the last #1 team standing in the tournament and continue their win steak which is now at 13.

Russ Smith, fighting off a cold, was Louisville’s MVP with 31 points. He sits with 5 to 1 odds to win the tournament’s MVP award.

Kevin Ware added 10 and Gorgui Dieng contributed 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots.

Cardinals Russ Smith

Cardinals Russ Smith

The Cardinals incurred 13 turnovers as opposed to the Ducks’ 12 and Peyton Siva spent some time on the bench in the first half due to foul trouble.

Even with Smith’s efforts, the Ducks put on a good show. With 9:01 remaining, Louisville was leading 66-48 but Oregon hit six consecutive goals to make it a 70-64 game. Louisville said not so fast and quickly widened to their lead to 10, sealing the win.

For Oregon, E.J. Singler led the team in scoring with his 15 points–one of five Ducks to score in double numbers.

Coach Rick Pitino said of the win via ESPN, “We’ve been a great defensive team — not a good one, a great one — all season. Tonight, their quickness was so good, all it did was wear us out defensively. But we had Russ Smith and Kevin really bail us out of some situations that could have gone either way.”

Louisville had won its tournament games by a 17-point average prior to Friday’s win. They have found success scoring points in the paint and against Oregon, this included 42 points as they’ve been averaging 42.7 points in the paint. Louisville is the first team over the four previous NCAA four tournaments to score a minimum of 40 points in the paint in three straight games, according to ESPN.

Next up for the Cardinals is #2 Duke on Sunday.

The Blue Devils made their way to the Elite Eight by defeating #4 Michigan State 71-61. Just as Louisville had Smith taking over on the scoring front, Seth Curry took care of that for Duke with his 29 points.

Duke's Seth Curry

Duke’s Seth Curry

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said of Curry’s efforts via ESPN, “Seth was scoring on every possession, and it was almost like we felt like we could relax on defense. When you’ve got a guy hot like that and you can put a couple of defensive stops with it, you can get separation.”

Part of Curry’s success came from shots outside the paint. He outscored all of Michigan State’s players 22-15 as he went 8 for 15 as opposed to Sparty’s 6 for 22.Curry had six 3-pointers, tying a Duke record for the most 3s in a Big Dance game.

Also helping his good play is his experience. Curry is a fifth-year senior.

Michigan State put on a good fight, especially as the first half included four ties with eight changes to the lead. The team hunkered down defensively and entered halftime leading 32-31.

But in the second half, it was just too hard to compete against the Seth Curry show.

As for the Spartans, Keith Appling, playing with a right shoulder injury, led the team in scoring with 16 points. Adreian Payne contributed 14 points with 10 rebounds.

Duke will now look ahead to the game against Louisville. The teams last played against one another on Nov. 24 with the Blue Devils beating Louisville 76-71. Should Smith and Curry continue their high scoring, this could be an interesting game.

For Krzyzewski, he is one win shy from Final Four appearance No. 12, which would then tie him for the coach’s tournament record held by UCLA’s John Wooden.

But this may not happen as Louisville gets the winning nod at -3.5.





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