Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
Manhattan coach Steve Masiello is a Rick Pitino disciple who went to school on his teacher Thursday night.
So as it turns out, Louisville coach Rick Pitino claimed that he had no real beef with the NCAA Selection Committee for making his defending national champions a No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region.
It was the committee’s pairing of Louisville with 13th-seeded Manhattan, a team coached by former Pitino assistant Steve Masiello, that had Pitino all riled up. And on Thursday night, we found out why as Manhattan gave the Cardinals all they could handle before falling, 71-64.
“I think the pairings lack common sense,” Pitino told Fox Sports before the game. He went on to tell Fox Sports that he was certain members of the selection committee were “very fair, very honorable people, so I can’t protest too much because they’re doing the best job they can do. Maybe they’re a bunch of soccer ADs, I don’t know.”
Masiello served as a ball boy with the NBA’s New York Knicks when Pitino coached there, played sparingly for him for two years at Kentucky in 1996 and 1997, and then spent six years as one of his assistant coaches at Louisville before taking the Manhattan job in 2012. He obviously learned well at the teacher’s side and put it to good use Thursday night, matching Pitino strategic move for strategic move throughout until the Cardinals’ obvious edge in depth and talent finally won out in the end.
But Louisville's victory wasn't certain until Luke Hancock, hero of last year's national title game, hit two huge three-pointers late.