Sweet 16: Cards' intense defense has familiar ring for Ore.

2013-03-29T00:00:00Z Sweet 16: Cards' intense defense has familiar ring for Ore.The Associated Press The Associated Press
March 29, 2013 12:00 am  • 

INDIANAPOLIS - The speed. The quickness. The penchant for causing chaos and mayhem. The ability to take a manageable game and turn it into a blowout in a matter of seconds.

Yeah, Dana Altman and his Oregon Ducks know exactly what they're up against with Louisville and that hair-on-fire defense. They've been watching the Oregon football team wreak the same kind of havoc for years now.

"It's almost the same situation that our football team runs into when teams are trying to get ready for them. They play so much faster and their team speed is different," Altman said Thursday. "I don't think teams can really get ready for our football team. … And I don't think we can prepare for the speed of Louisville: their quickness, their guard quickness, their overall team speed and the different looks they throw at you.

"They beat people up mentally as much as physically," Altman added. "If you're not focused, if you make a mistake, they get those runs that they just turn a game around."

The 12th-seeded Ducks (28-8) reached the regional semifinals for the first time since 2007, and their reward is a date with Louisville today.

The Cardinals (31-5) looked every bit the overall top seed in their first two games, routing North Carolina A&T and Colorado State by an average of 28.5 points while forcing 47 turnovers. Both the Aggies and Rams finished with more turnovers than field goals, and Louisville out-rebounded Colorado State - no minor stat against a team that had both the nation's best rebounding margin and the top rebounding tandem in Colton Iverson and Pierce Hornung.

The numbers are even scarier in Louisville's current 12-game winning streak. The Cardinals have held their foes to fewer than 55 points and 38 percent shooting during the run, and forced an average of almost 19 turnovers.

"Coach P really gets his teams to play really well around this time of March," point guard Peyton Siva said. "Right now, we're just trying to continue to keep on the roll."

Mutual admiration between Coach K, Izzo

INDIANAPOLIS - Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski have been teaching young men how to play basketball for decades.

On Thursday, they demonstrated why they're so good. They stay loose.

Instead of getting tense and out of sorts the day before the Midwest Regional's well-hyped coaching matchup, the pair took turns praising one another's styles, their loyalty to their schools and their teams' penchant for limiting mistakes. Then they turned around and poked fun at themselves and their families.

It was basketball at its most polite.

"I consider him a great friend. There's nothing about Tom that I don't think is good. If we lose to them, believe me, I'll hug him and shake his hand, and he'll do the same for me. I like that," said Krzyzewski, the NCAA Division I record-holder with 956 career wins.

Even heading into a game that will put one of these coaches within a victory of yet another Final Four trip.

There may not be a more compelling coaching duel in this year's tournament.

In 33 seasons at Duke, Krzyzewski has gone to 11 Final Fours, the most among active coaches.

The last time he faced Michigan State, the Blue Devils gave him a 74-69 win that broke Bob Knight's career record for wins.

Izzo doesn't mind playing that role.

"I'm going to be famous someday because it was our game last year at New York that broke the record, and I guess if you've got to be famous, who cares what the reason is," Izzo said, drawing laughter.

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