BOZICH | Phi Slama Jama Not Walking Through That Door Vs. Cards
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WDRB) -- Raise your hand if you remember the Welcome To the 21st Century basketball game that Louisville and Houston played in the 1983 NCAA Final Four.
The Cardinals did not win (94-81 Houston) but they ran the Cougars so relentlessly that they put Jim Valvano and North Carolina State in perfect position to topple the Phi Slama Jama Cougars two nights later in the NCAA title game in Albuquerque, N.M.
WARNING: Phi Slama Jama won't be walking through that door Friday night.
Don't look for a game like that at the Fed Ex Forum when the Cards and Cougars play in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament at 7 (EDT).
The Cards are ranked second in Ken Pomeroy's computer formula. The Cougars are ranked No. 126 – behind Columbia (Ivy League), Vanderbilt and South Carolina (dreadful SEC teams).
But the show must go on – and with it 10 Things to Know about the U of L-UH game.
1. How big is college basketball in Houston?
Wasn't the Final Four just played there three years ago when UConn won the title? Thought so.
Well, the Cougars are about eight hours from home and the hometown paper, the Houston Chronicle, is apparently using a freelance writer to cover the team in Memphis. And Chronicle columnist Randy Harvey wrote this piece about how March Madness is not creating 10-gallon excitement in Texas.
2. The Cards and Cougars have played twice this season. Louisville's average margin of victory in the two wins -- 27. The Cards were ahead by 29 at halftime the first time and 19 the second.
3. Plenty of good seats should be available. My WDRB sidekick, Steve Andress, said that on Thursday night the lowest-priced tickets for the semifinals on Stubhub.com were $55.
Then Memphis lost to UConn in the quarterfinals. Less than an hour after the defeat, the price tumbled to $39. They're currently going for as low as $28.10 – and that seller has nine available.
It's only a six-hour drive. My guess is that you'll get in and find something close to the court.
In the Elvis seats.
4. Houston played in the 1982 Final Four. Lost in the semifinals. Went back in 1983. Lost to N.C. State in the final. Went back to the Final Four in Seattle in 1984 for a third time with Hakeem Olajuwon. Lost to Georgetown and Patrick Ewing in the final.
The Cougars have not won an NCAA Tournament game since leaving Seattle. They're 0-4.
No NCAA Tournament wins in three decades. Imagine.
5. One of the stars of that 1982 Houston team died this week – guard Rob Williams, who later played in the NBA. He was only 52.
6. Ken Pomeroy's computer formula likes Louisville by 17 with a 93 percent win probability. The current line in Las Vegas is Cards by 19. Jeff Sagarin's computer formula makes it Louisville by 20 1/2.
7. Rick Pitino won't have to worry about defending Houston's best player. Hall of Famer Elvin Hayes, 68, works as the radio analyst on the Cougars' network. Hayes scored 2,884 points for the Cougars and was twice named a first-team all-American. He also teamed with former Cardinal Wes Unseld and former UK star Kevin Grevey on an NBA title team in Washington.
I'm sure there have been guys with a nicer 12-foot turnaround baseline jumper. I just can't name any of them.
8. Louisville has won its last three games by an average of 35.7 points – and two of those opponents were NCAA Tournament teams.
9. I wondered how long it had been since Louisville had beaten consecutive opponents by a combined 92 points – 61 over Rutgers and 31 over UConn. Figured it had to be at least several decades.
Wrong. It was only less than 16 months ago. Last season Louisville beat College of Charleston by 42 and then backed it up three nights later with a 52-point victory over UMKC.
10. But it is true that the 31 points that Louisville allowed against Rutgers were the fewest points that an opponent scored against the Cards in the shot-clock/three-point field goal era, a stretch of nearly three decades. Thanks to Ira Green of the U of L sports information office for that one.
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