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Friday evening Cardinal news and notes

Daniel Horne has been waiting for a Sweet 16 victory his entire life. He hasn't blinked since the end of the Northern Iowa game.

I_medium Spread Check: Louisville by 2.5.

I_medium The Washington Post thinks NC State will pull off the upset tonight behind a strong effort from Cat Barber and Trevor Lacey, as well as some poor Cardinal shooting.

I_medium Pat Forde writes that Louisville is back in the title hunt thanks in large part to the unlikely emergence of the quietly confident Quentin Snider.

A few minutes earlier, N.C. State point guard Anthony "Cat" Barber had talked a little smack about the East Region semifinal matchup with the Cardinals. Among his comments: "I don't know too much about that new point guard they got, but it's going to be kind of hard trying to contain me with my speed."

Hoping to stir up a little dialog, the TV guys thrust their microphones toward that new point guard and asked for his response to Barber's bravado.

They left in about a minute, disappointed. There would be no crossfire from Snider.

"I'm a really quiet person," the Louisville freshman said, quietly.

The fact that Snider is part of an anticipated NCAA tournament Sweet 16 matchup is improbable. But then again, so is the fact that he's Louisville's starting point guard. And so is the fact that he's a Cardinal at all.

For a guy who was always The Other Point Guard in Rick Pitino's plans, he's come a long way in a hurry. And by necessity.

Thirty-six days ago in this same Carrier Dome, Snider made his first collegiate start in place of suspended Chris Jones. A week later, he became Louisville's full-time starter at point after Jones was dismissed for being charged with rape. Last week in Seattle, Snider played his best basketball as a collegian to help the Cardinals past UC Irvine and Northern Iowa - he averaged 13 points and 4.5 rebounds in his first two NCAA tournament games, making the winning free throws against UC Irvine with 8.9 seconds left.

"There were really no nerves," Snider said, despite the fact that he was a 59 percent foul shooter at that point. "I'm surprised by that."

I_medium A handful of additional locations have been added to the "Where We're Watching" post since it was first published.

I_medium Luke Hancock is feeling confident, which in turn makes me feel confident.

"I think if you give Coach a week to prepare he's going to be able to pull something special off," Hancock said. "And it's actually good for the team that they took a loss to NC State early on in the year. So I think they're going to come out really energetic, they're going to have the scouting report down and they're going to be well prepared."

Hancock says Pitino keeps his players focused by keeping them isolated during the days leading up to a big game. 

"If you're playing for Rick Pitino you're going to be very isolated because like I said he's big on preparation," Hancock said. "And you're going to spend most of your day watching film or going to practice and trying to get yourself ready to go. There's also a big part of just resting, and Coach is good at getting you off your feet when you're not playing. So they just need to be totally focused. This time of year only happens once, and everybody knows: if you lose a game, you're going home."

I_medium The local newspaper of note in Syracuse mis-identified NC State's Chris Corchiani Jr. as David Levitch this morning.

I_medium Rick Pitino was interviewed by John Ramsey Thursday afternoon, and among many other things, he had this to say:

I've enjoyed coaching Wayne Blackshear every single day. I'll remember him for the rest of my life. There has not been one day I haven't loved coaching him. I can't say that about Peyton or Russ even.


I_medium Our friends over at Backing the Pack identify forward Lennard Freeman as the surprise x-factor for NC State tonight.

I_medium Donovan Mitchell is .... impressive.

I_medium How the hell does UCF get an adult onesie before we do?

I_medium Steve Lavin and St. John's have parted ways.

I_medium Cat Barber still has a vicious case of booger denial.

I_medium Bellarmine lost last night in the D-II Final Four on a heartbreaking shot in the final seconds, but the program still won in the grand scheme of things for their work with Patrick McSweeney. Congrats to Scott Davenport and company on yet another tremendous season.

I_medium Earl Clark has signed a 10-day deal with the Brooklyn Nets.

I_medium Cardinal Sports Zone's Justin Renck wonders if Cat Barber is the next great Louisville villain.

I_medium Thursday's television coverage of the regional semifinals generated the highest ratings ever for the Sweet 16 Thursday of the NCAA Tournament (since the tournament began its current television format in 1991). Thursday's games averaged a 9.1/16 overnight rating/share, up 30% compared to a 7.0/13 in 2014, based on Nielsen metered market ratings.

I_medium Love these guys, and I'm not ready for this to end.

I_medium The Atlantic gives Louisville some props for being "the city that believed in desegregation."

I_medium NC State's Scout site looks at how the Wolfpack will try and defend Montrezl Harrell tonight.

"He's kind of like me I think," Freeman said. "They run plays for him though... but you have to put a body on him or he might put one on your head. Nobody wants to get put on Sports Center. You have to box him out and match his intensity."

"You have to keep a body on him at all times," added freshman forward Abdul-Malik Abu. "He's terrific. He has a high motor. He's an animal down there. We just have to slow him down and box him out."

Harrell, who grew up in Tarboro, North Carolina and considered NC State out of high school, remains the focal point defensively for the Wolfpack. Limiting his production can essentially shut down Louisville's frontcourt offense because the Cardinals' other post players aren't relied on for offense.

"We have to slow him down," said Abu. "We feel like his offensive skillset is one where if he's comfortable he'll be a dangerous player. If you make things a little more uneasy he's more of a player we can stop.

"He's a very talented player, and he'll be in the NBA next year. We have to do our best, like we did before, to lock him down."

Freeman believes there is one major factor in defending Harrell.

"We have to match his intensity."

I_medium The Asbury Park Press says Cat Barber will light up Louisville again on Thursday, but the Cards will still prevail.

I_medium Kentucky's 39-point win last night matched 2009 Louisville for the largest margin of victory in the history of the Sweet 16.

I_medium Yahoo's Jeff Eisenberg is riding with the underdogs tonight.

No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 8 NC State: Predicting an NC State game is always a challenge because you never know what version of the Wolfpack you'll get. Will it be the confident, aggressive group that owns victories against Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and Villanova this season? Or will it be the listless, cold-shooting team that trailed Duke 42-17 in the ACC quarterfinals? The tough shot making ability of Trevor Lacey, the perimeter shooting of Ralston Turner and an improving interior game make NC State a tough out when the Wolfpack are playing well, but Louisville has looked dangerous as well in this tournament. Quentin Snider's emergence at point guard has softened the blow of Chris Jones' dismissal and Wayne Blackshear's scoring has provided badly needed support for Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell. What this game could come down to is whether Louisville can continue to make perimeter shots. The Cardinals have shot fairly well in their first two NCAA tournament games, but that was still a season-long weakness for them. Predicted winner: NC State.

I_medium I love this place so, so much.

I_medium NC State is expecting to be pressed by Louisville, and they believe it will be a mistake.

I_medium The State-Journal in Frankfort says no one should be surprised that the Cards are making another run.

I_medium And finally, beat NC State.