The first round of the Big East Tournament was one of my favorite days on the basketball calendar even during the years Louisville was running around in the Metro and C-USA. Obviously the second (or third) Wednesday in March has become even more enjoyable now that the Cards are among the teams taking the floor inside Madison Square Garden.
The first game of the 2009 slate of Wednesday games will determine who the top-seeded Cardinals face tomorrow at the same time.
It's eight-seeded and bubble ridden Providence taking on the perhaps the least likely team in the country to be playing today, No. 16 Depaul, a squad which went winless over the 18-game Big East regular season.
Feel free to join in the fun via the comments section or with an email to MikeRuth5@aol.com.
Let's hit it.
12:02 - We're here live from the Card Chronicle Compound (not Headquarters) and ready for an opening tilt that will lack the excitement of the 8/9 games of previous years unless Depaul can play above its head again.
Dan Schulman is here, Len Elmore is here, Mike Rutherford is sitting on a couch in Louisville. It's go time.
12:06 - Six shots, six misses and I'm pretty sure they've all been wide left....interesting?
12:07 - Weyinmi Efejuku finishes an alley-oop for the first made field goal in 11 attempts.
12:09 - Here's hoping our noon game is just a tad more aesthetically pleasing tomorrow.
Friahs up 4-2 at the under 16 timeout.
12:14 - Dar Tucker hasn't missed and has ten points. The Demons can hang if he's having one of his all-world games.
It's Depaul up 12-11 as the pace starts to pick up.
12:16 -Will Walker goes coast-to-coast for an uncontested lay-up and Depaul's up three.
Providence looks like it only had to show up to play tomorrow, and Keno Davis looks like he's ready to decapitate someone.
12:20 - A friend last night guaranteed that Jerry Wainwright would go out and get hammered to celebrate Depaul's first round win. I had my doubts, but Schulman just said that Wainwright is under the weather and "doesn't look like himself."
If Depaul wins and Wainwright inexplicably starts crying and pulls out his cell phone in the middle of tomorrow's game then we'll know for sure.
12:26 - The dream is alive and well in the Garden...Depaul leads 19-13 with ten to play in the half.
12:28 - Depaul has seven offensive boards and zero turnovers while the Friars have given it up six times. PC has to get Efejuku or Curry going. It's 22-16, Demons at the under eight.
12:31 - Dar Tucker really is Wilson Chandler. I almost hate seeing him play this way because you know he's capable of doing it every night, and you know that he's still eventually going to get paid because of his ridiculous talent.
12:35 - Depaul builds a nine-point lead and then shows why it went 0-18 in conference play by turning it over three straight times and letting the lead dip back down to one.
12:38 - Providence has started trying and Depaul has kind of stopped at the same time. It's still the Demons by one, 25-24 at the under four.
12:45 - Depaul's Mario Stula doesn't play for the first 17 minutes of the game and then gets in and buries a pair of treys in about 30 seconds. Demons up 31-29.
12:49 - Sharaud Curry banks in a three to put PC up one at the half.
12:54 - Jerry Wainwright is friggin' pumped.
12:57 - Curry is the game's leading scorer with 16 points, while Will Walker has 13 and Tucker has 10 for Depaul.
1:12 - Walker and Tucker come out firing and Depaul goes back up by three. Surely there's a massive PC run coming sometime between now and the five minute mark.
1:14 - Jerry Wainwright: master of the seemlingly unnecessary early second half timeout. Hey, it's working my man, stick with it.
1:15 - Score updates:
Baylor 28, Nebraska 21 (first half)
St. Louis 26, La Salle 24 (halftime)
Rice 6, Marshall 6
1:18 - Sharaud Curry is in one of his Sharaud Curry zones. He's got 21 and we're tied at 43.
1:20 - Providence isn't playing particularly well, but they're also not insanely lethargic or disinterested. There's just no excuse for this Depaul team with Walker, Tucker and Koshwal going 0-18 and continually dropping games by ridiculous margins in the Big East.
It's 45-45 with just under 14 to play. If you all quit your jobs now you'll probably be able to catch the last nine or ten minutes.
1:24 - Stula's hit seven threes all season and he's knocked down three in just over two minutes of court time this afternoon. Unreal.
1:25 - Walker's a good shooter and an excellent calming force, but he's not a particularly good ball-handler nor is anyone else in blue. I just don't understand why it's taken Providence so long to pick up the press and extend its defense in the halfcourt.
Depaul 51-46 with 12:30 to go.
1:29 - PC is trying to force Tucker to go to his right and he's still scoring. Darquavis has 22 and his team's up 55-53.
This is borderline unbelievable.
1:33 - As entertaining as this is, it's really not good for the conference.
1:37 - Depaul making the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament has officially become a realistic possbility. Tucker's got 25 and the Demons lead by four with eight and-a-half to go.
1:39 - Stula with a huge block on Efejuku. The man has been hustling for five months.
1:39 - Keno Davis gets T'd up in what would seem to be a desperate move by a desperate coach. Depaul up 60-55 with the ball.
1:42 - I realize that Louisville has never lost to Depaul ever (look it up), but I can't help but feel weird, if not nervous, about possibly facing the Demons in the quarterfinals.
1:44 - Mac Koshwal has three fouls and his team has the ball and a four point lead, so the only logical thing for him to do is blatantly shove his man in the face right in front of two officials.
1:46 - Congrats to Wiley Brown and IU Southeast, which opened the NAIA Tournament with a 17-point win this morning.
1:49 - Depaul has had a chance to put this one away at the stripe, but Tucker and Walker have each missed three.
Tucker picks up his fourth foul and Efejuku strokes a pair to make it 62-61 Depaul with six and-a-quarter to go.
1:53 - Jeff Xavier buries a three and Providence finally takes the lead at 64-62. Jonathan Xavier resists the urge to rush the floor.
1:55 - Depaul responds by nearly air-balling a three on a 2-on-1 fast break and then refusing to play any defense.
It's a 15-1 PC run and the Friars lead 70-62.
This one's done, son.
1:57 - You'll always have Tuesday, Jerry.
2:02 -Dar Tucker continues to drive and draw fouls...and then miss free-throws. One-point possessions aren't going to get it done here. Friars by nine with 2:30 to go.
2:04 - Providence shoots just over 60% from the stripe as a team, but Depaul refuses to foul Len says it's because Jerry Wainwright wants his guys to feel this loss...I'm not as sure that this is the case.
2:06 - Dar Tucker has 30 points and Will Walker has 28. Thanks for the help, Mac.
2:08 - Providence 83, Depaul 74 is your final.
The Cards will face a desperate team tomorrow afternoon.
It's grub time.