A recent Gallup poll indicated that Kentucky is the second unhappiest state in the nation. The poll must have oversampled Kentucky Wildcat fans, because Louisville fans are in a state of euphoria right now.
The tournament's top overall seed did what it was supposed to on Thursday. They drew first blood and beat 16-seed NC A&T like a marching band drum. The U of L spent most of its day on defense, but that was a positive. Louisville placed a pillow over the Aggies and went for the snuff-move. As a result, NC A&T couldn’t breathe against the Cardinals suffocating defense and spent more time trying to cross half court, as U of L did with the ball in their possession. Overall, Louisville recorded 19 steals and forced 24 turnovers in their 79-48 victory. No mercy.
Louisville's victory was indicative of the bland day in the Midwest region. The little guy came close, but couldn't convert an upset. However, the biggest player in the entire field of 68 was a liability in defeat. New Mexico State’s, 7-5, 340 pound center Sim Bullhar was a physically imposing presence in the post and allowed New Mexico State to outmuscle Saint Louis on the offensive boards 21 to 8. However, the Billikens responded by speeding up their tempo and forcing 16 turnovers in their 20 point win. It was Saint Louis’ 6-5 forward, Dwayne Evans, who led the Billikens with 24 points is rounding into form at the perfect time. He’s upped his scoring average by 10 points to 23 a game since the regular season concluded.
Meanwhile, St. Mary's nearly staged a thrilling comeback after cutting Memphis' 49-40 lead to five points with 14 seconds. That was when a quick three by Evidas Petrulius and a turnover off a defensive deflection gave the Gaels possession and a two-point deficit with 2.9 seconds to remaining. However, Matthew Dellavedova’s game-winning three wasn’t even in the same zip code as the basket. Fortunately, that gives America a better chance to familiarize itself with D.J. Stephens.