Again this year, Card Chronicle had the chance to speak with ESPN's Rece Davis about a variety of topics. Here's the Louisville-relevant chunk of our discussion.
CC: Several people these last couple of days have given their opinion that Louisville might be over-seeded. Cards fans, on the other hand, seem to be pretty content with their team's draw. What's your general impression of Louisville's situation and their potential to make a run?
I think Louisville did stand out a little bit as a team which got a favorable draw, but I also think they were probably owed one after what happened last year. Look, you should never sell a Rick Pitino team short, especially at this time of the year. That being said, they certainly have had some offensive issues up to this point. You've got two guys who can really score in Montrezl Harrell and Terry Rozier, but as a team, their shooting has been very suspect.
I do think the draw is good as far as making it to the Sweet 16, but if they want to make a deeper run, they're probably going to have to find more offense from some other guys. They could be scary if that happens, and you can never count out seeing a little magic from a team that has that guy sitting on their bench. But as my good friend and colleague Seth Greenberg likes to say, they just seem to "get stuck" offensively from time-to-time. If they can make it to the Sweet 16 then they'll probably see a Villanova team that is a lot less likely to "get stuck" on offense.
That round of 32 game is going to be very challenging for them as well if UNI is able to get past Wyoming. They have a guy in Seth Tuttle who, and I know a lot of people have said the same thing, reminds you a little bit of Frank Kaminsky; he does a lot of the same things that Kaminsky does. But I think if you're a Louisville fan hoping for a run, you just have to trust in the fact that you have Rick Pitino and these other teams don't.
CC: Do you buy into the notion that college basketball is in need of a major makeover?
Well, I think that's a multi-faceted question. I do think significant changes are needed. You look at a game like last night's (BYU vs. Ole Miss) which was so entertaining and which everyone enjoyed so much, and we need more of that. Now those teams are playing that style by their own volition, but the rule-makers need to do some things to force the game to be played like that. That game was a great tone-setter for the rest of the tournament, and I think it showed exactly why these changes need to be made.
The game needs, not just more scoring, but a more aesthetically pleasing product. The game right now is too physical, there are too many teams grinding out, and the officials are allowing for way too much contact away from the ball. Now there are still great games, and there's still great drama and there are still great players, but we need to clean up all that physical play away from the ball.
I am in favor of shortening the shot clock and widening the lane and backing up the three-point line to the International rules. I think that will create space and it will give college basketball's most talented players more of an opportunity to shine. I'd actually like to see a 24 second shot clock, but 30 is fine. I checked in with some of the NIT scores on Tuesday or whenever that was, and there wasn't a real noticeable difference, so maybe we need to shorten it even more than 30 seconds.
The only time Louisville and Kentucky fans ever agree on anything is when someone says they have a better rivalry. What's your take on where the Bluegrass rivalry stacks up nationally?
It's right up there, for sure. I think where there's an edge for Duke/Carolina -- well, it's two-parted. Throughout the history of the sport, Duke and Carolina have always been -- and this isn't to take anything away from Louisville -- but Duke and Carolina have always been right up there with the most, and I know Coach K had a couple of down years, but those two have always been right up there with the most nationally recognized and consistently successful programs.
The other thing with Duke and UNC is that there's something more tangible than bragging rights at stake. Louisville-Kentucky is for bragging rights -- you know, the vitriol, the "I hate you because I have to see you at work in the morning," but nothing bigger. You've got the same vitriol and emotion with UNC/Duke, and then the added benefit of their being a championship at stake ... unless the ACC title's already been decided.
So you've got all that, and then you've got -- Louisville has a remarkable history, but there are not among the top 5 brands in the sport, UNC and Duke are. You don't have to go down much farther to find Louisville, but they aren't in the top 5. So that's why I think you have to give the real slight edge to Carolina-Duke.
CC: I have to bring this up now. We talked last year about "GameDay" having never been to the Yum Center and you said it was going to happen. It didn't. What's the deal and can we expect that to change in 2016?
Well let me just say this right off the bat: I'm trying. I hear you and I care, but I'm not a sole decision maker here.
A couple of things happened this year that kept it from happening, and there was nothing we could do about it. The first thing was that leading up to that last game, Virginia already had locked up the ACC, and Louisville seemed to be fading a little bit. The other thing was that, the first time they'd played, North Carolina and Duke had played one of the best games of the college basketball season, that 92-90 Duke win in overtime. So those were the two things that kept us from making it there this year.
Let me just say to the Louisville fans, we definitely want to come there, we know what Louisville means to the sport, we know about their stature, and we remember how great it was when we came (to Freedom Hall) before. For Louisville fans who think they deserve for GameDay to come there, I agree, and I hope it happens soon. There were just a couple of circumstantial things this year that kept it from being possible.
A big thanks to Rece, who is once again serving on the Capital One Cup advisory board, for taking the time out.