BOZICH | As Rick Pitino pursues Number 700, another list of his - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | As Rick Pitino pursues Number 700, another list of his top 10 victories

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Rick Pitino is 40 minutes from his 700th career victory as a college basketball coach. The moment figures to be celebrated against Cleveland State Wednesday night in the KFC Yum! Center.

My sidekick, Eric Crawford, posted his list of the 10 Greatest Victories in Pitino's career. Here's mine – and I encourage you to share your selections.

10. Providence 103, Alabama 82 (March 19, 1987) – Everybody remembers the game Pitino won against John Thompson and Georgetown in the Southeast Regional final. Everybody forgets the way Billy Donovan and the Friars overwhelmed Alabama.

This was Wimp Sanderson's best team, the SEC champs. Derrick McKey. Mark Farmer. Michael Ansley. The Tide went 16-2 in the SEC. Wimp thought they could win the national title. I've asked him.

Didn't matter. Not the way Pitino's team shot three-pointers.

9. Louisville 78, Syracuse 61 (March 16, 2013) – Rick Pitino loved the Big East. He didn't want to watch it crumble with the defections of Syracuse and Pittsburgh – and eventually his program, too. Dave Gavitt, the guy who founded the Big East, was one of Pitino's mentors at Providence.

What better way to end an era than winning the final championship in the powerful league at Madison Square Garden than rallying for a thunderous win against the Orange, one of the league's signature programs?

8. Louisville 78, Syracuse 68 (March 1, 2010) – The record shows that the Orange were ranked first in the nation, a quality team with Wesley Johnson, a lottery pick Thanks to Kyle Kuric and company the Cardinals closed out their time in Freedom Hall the way it deserved to be closed – with dunks and a victory.

7. Louisville 72, Wichita State 68 (April 6, 2013) – If the Cardinals don't get past the Shockers, there is no game against Michigan to remember. They were on the ropes in the national semifinals – until Tim Henderson and Luke Hancock saved them.

6. Louisville 93, West Virginia 85 OT (March 26, 2005) – A 20-point comeback against the Mountaineers was special. Getting to the Final Four at Louisville for the first time was memorable for Francisco Garcia, Larry O'Bannon and especially Pitino.

5. Kentucky 100, LSU 95 (Feb. 15, 1990) – Pitino had a lineup full of guys who could not play for Eddie Sutton. Dale Brown had Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Jackson and Stanley Roberts. Pitino won 14 games in his first season at UK. This was the most remarkable victory of that 14 for John Pelphrey, Richie Farmer, Sean Woods and the rest of that group.

4. Louisville 82, Michigan 76 (April 8, 2013) – Michigan was terrific, with first-round draft picks like Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. Louisville was even better. Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Hancock, Chane Behanan made a string of big plays to make Pitino the first coach to win NCAA titles at two programs.

3. Providence 88, Georgetown 73 (March 21, 1987) – The Hoyas were a one-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Their game was intimidation. The Hoyas had just defeated the Friars by 18 and 11. The Hoyas had Reggie Williams, a lottery pick. Didn't matter. After punishing Alabama with three-pointers two nights earlier, Pitino shocked Georgetown by attacking inside.

2. Kentucky 99, LSU 95 (Feb. 15, 1994) – Down 31 with 15 ½ minutes to play, Pitino's team delivered the greatest and most unrelenting rally I have ever seen, the Mardi Gras Miracle. Football teams have a difficult time rallying from 31. Walter McCarty, Jeff Brassow and Tony Delk made it happen in Baton Rouge.

1. Kentucky 76, Syracuse 67 (April 1, 1996) – Pitino's first NCAA title. At the end of a season when only a national title would have satisfied UK fans or players, the Wildcats were the best team in the nation – and this victory allowed them to celebrate. This win put Pitino in The Club.

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