‘Louisville vs. Pitino’ in NCAA Tournament Could Be an Exhausting Storyline
Chris Mack wants no part of it, I'd imagine. So he'll need to turn a deaf ear or blind eye--his choice--to the inevitable chatter about his first-round match-up in the 2019 NCAA Tournament.
Why, I'm writing about it now.
Mack, the affable first-year head coach of the Louisville Cardinals, managed to stifle just enough of his team's late-season swoon to land on the 7-seed line in the East Region.
His reward? A (manageable) game against the 10th-seeded Golden Gophers of Minnesota.
Those are the same Golden Gophers coached by one Richard Pitino, son of Louisville expatriate Rick Pitino.
Take away all the drama surrounding this game, and you have a pretty evenly matched tilt between two teams who didn't exactly set the world on fire in the final third of their respective seasons.
(Going in, I'll call the Gophers the somewhat hotter team, at the moment, but only based on their two wins in the past two weeks against 3-seed Purdue--MUCH better accomplishments than what the Cardinals can claim over the same period.)
But drama is what most in the media live for. And juicy NCAA storylines are the reddest of red meat for those who cover the Big Dance.
And when you have a game that features a coach going up against the school that fired his Hall of Fame dad amid scandal, you have a juicy NCAA storyline.
This isn't just "that coach used to coach his opponent's team," "that coach used to be the opposing coach's assistant," or "that team's point guard as a brother on the opposing team."
No, this game is flecked with "bad blood" spatter.
Naturally, though, I can't see Richard Pitino playing like he's got it in for Chris Mack. That won't happen. These guys run clean operations. I'm not even sure if they know each other. They certainly can't help what the selection committee hath wrought. (Not deliberately, of course. That would be way too difficult, regardless of what casual observers might think.)
But here's the deal, if this storyline does crescendo, it'll wrap up by Thursday afternoon--Louisville/Minnesota is the very first game of the NCAA Tournament, Thursday at 11:15.
One coach will be home watching the evening news Thursday before this whole wonderful tournament essentially gets rolling.
He'll also be OUT of the line of "juicy storyline" fire.