BOZICH | Dick Vitale speaks on Louisville (one seed), Kentucky (a mystery), Indiana (must wins)
Dick Vitale thinks many things about college basketball, including these three: Louisville is a one-seed, Kentucky is a mystery and Indiana must beat Purdue Thursday.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) – Dick Vitale remains 77 going on 17. His schedule is so frantic I couldn’t even write everything down as we talked before the Purdue-Indiana game that Vitale will call for ESPN at 7 p.m. from Simon Skojdt Assembly Hall.
When this game ends, Vitale and his wife, Lorraine, will fly to Detroit. He’ll be honored for the 40-year anniversary of the Top 25 team he coached at the University of Detroit.
Saturday he will be in South Bend for Florida State-Notre Dame. Monday it’s off to Kansas. Wednesday … a special performance that Vitale wants ESPN to announce.
I slowed him down long enough to ask three questions – one about Louisville, another about Kentucky and a third about Indiana.
BOZICH: You’ve identified Gonzaga, Villanova and Kansas as three of the top four seeds for the NCAA Tournament. Which team should be the fourth top seed?
VITALE: “I’d put Louisville. I’ll tell you the reason: The committee is going to look at the fact that Louisville has been playing without two key players (Quentin Snider and Tony Hicks).
“I like Louisville very much defensively. Very athletic. Long, tough mentally and I think obviously the upside is they’re going to get Snider back. He’s a catalyst, an engine that makes them go. He’s having a real solid year.
“They’re going to benefit from the fact that a lot of kids got a lot of playing time and some experience – and now here comes a star player back into the lineup. I like Louisville.”
BOZICH: Kentucky has been struggling. Even John Calipari has questioned his team’s defense. You voted the Wildcats’ 20th in the AP college basketball poll Monday. Any backlash?
VITALE: “Not really. I think anybody in their right mind, if you study and analyze where they’ve been over the last month, really you can’t keep living on what you’ve done early. It’s what you are doing currently.
“My thing is this: Kentucky to me is a little different than the normal Kentucky team. John Calipari’s team usually in February, the young freshmen keep getting better and better and better. This club has hit a roadblock, defensively in particular.
“When they’re giving up 80-some points to LSU, that was scary to me. Giving up the number they’ve been giving up, that’s not a John Calipari kind of team, in terms of defensively. Unless they buy into what he’s teaching, they’re going to have it tough down to the end.
“They’ve been struggling for a month now against a lot of people … Kentucky is still Kentucky. There’s talent. They’re well coached. They’ll be dangerous if they decide to commit to playing team defense. I have not seen that yet.
“They’re a real mystery to me. They’re a mystery. What’s the real Kentucky team?”
BOZICH: Indiana is listed as a bubble team in most NCAA Tournament bracket projections. How big is this Purdue game for the Hoosiers?
VITALE: “This is a must-win here tonight. They’re 5-6 in conference play. They’re struggling right now, but injuries have been key. (OG) Anunoby is not a normal player. They’re missing a kid like that. I looked it up. They’re 10-4 when he plays and 5-5 without him.
“(James) Blackmon has been out. They’ve got two home games this week – Purdue and Michigan (Sunday). You want to play in the NCAA Tournament, you have to win those games.
“You’re under .500 (5-6) in the Big Ten, man. You’ve to win those games. The Big Ten isn’t what it’s been. How many nationally rated teams are there? (Three.) Usually you have six or seven.
“They have put themselves in a position where you’ve got to win some games. The issues (with injuries) have been legit. I have no question, they’re hurt by these injuries.
“But you know what? After a while you’ve got to start winning some games.”
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