The Best Louisville Game of the Decade Tournament Final Four: 1 vs. 5

The decade's over...about nine weeks before this tournament is going to be, apparently.

Final Four. Let's do it. Come on. Here we go.

1. LOUISVILLE BEATS WEST VIRGINIA TO GO TO THE FINAL FOUR (3/6/05)

HOW IT GOT HERE:

Defeated No. 16- 2001 Liberty Bowl (94%-5%)
Defeated No. 9- '03 Bball win over UK (83%-16%)

After dismantling top seed Washington two days prior, it's safe to say that Louisville fans were confident heading into an Elite Eight matchup with seventh-seeded West Virginia. That confidence was shaken quickly as the Mountaineers quickly hit the Cardinals with a barrage of three-pointers and built a 20-point first half lead.

"I've never seen anything like it in my life," Rick Pitino said. "They were falling out of bounds, shooting from half-court and banking them in. You've got to give them all the credit in the world."

Pitino abandoned the zone defense in the second half and Louisville pressed, trapped and clawed its way back into the game.

With leading scorer Francisco Garcia on the bench with five fouls and Taquan Dean suffering from cramps, homegrown Larry O'Bannon took the game over. His driving lay-up with less than a minute to play ultimately sent the game into overtime where the Cardinals were able to hold off an exhausted Mountaineer squad.

The win secured Louisville's first trip to the Final Four since 1986 and made Pitino the only coach to ever lead three different programs to the national semifinals.

When Brandon Jenkins blocked J.D. Collins' shot and Taquan Dean started toward the other end of the floor with the clock ticking down in regulation, I'll always remember thinking in the back of my mind: "I've never felt a feeling like this in my chest...oh my god, am I dying?" It was an amazing, amazing day.

5. LOUISVILLE STUNS NO. 4 FLORIDA STATE (9/26/02)

HOW IT GOT HERE:

Defeated No. 12- Jerry Smith's buzzer-beater beats Marquette (72%-27%)
Defeated No. 4- 2005 C-USA title game (52%-47%)

The Louisville football program's first "signature win" had come more than a decade earlier via a thrashing of Alabama in the Fiesta Bowl, but this was the monumental victory that set the tone for U of L's rise to prominence over the next few years.

In a torrential downpour, the Cardinals - who had already dropped games to Kentucky and Colorado State after entering the year with their highest preseason ranking in history - forced the fourth-ranked and unbeaten Seminoles into overtime.

On the first play of overtime, FSU quarterback Chris Rix had his pass intercepted by U of L free safety Anthony Floyd. One play later, Louisville running back Henry Miller burst through the middle and waltzed into the endzone, inspiring the soldout crowd at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium to storm onto the field and tear down the goal posts.

"They were better than we were," said Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden. "Before the season, I was very concerned about this game because they were playing as good as anybody last season. We simply did not stop them."

Bowden also praised Cardinal quarterback Dave Ragone, who he said was "as good as any quarterback in the country."

"We fed off an unbelievable crowd in a torrential downpour," Ragone said afterward. "They started ripping down the goal posts, ripping off my helmet, ripping off everything."

The first spot in the title game and a life is at stake. Whose life? Vote or find out.

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