Louisville couldn't have scripted a more perfect sendoff for venerable Freedom Hall. Here are four observations from the Cardinals' 78-68 victory over top-ranked Syracuse in their final game at Freedom Hall before they move into a sparkling new downtown arena next season:
• Louisville (20-11, 11-7) might have snuck into the NCAA tournament even with a loss today, but its 11th victory in the Big East certainly seals it. In fact, with a pair of wins over Syracuse and the chance to pick up another victory or two in the Big East tournament, the Cardinals could easily play their way into the 7 to 9 seed range.
• The 22-point second half from Louisville sophomore Kyle Kuric is the reason we love college basketball so much. The reserve guard may not have even seen the floor in the second half had Jerry Smith not injured his hand and Reggie Delk not cramped up, yet he sank 9 of 11 shots, including four huge threes and a couple of athletic alley-oop slams as the Cardinals were salting it away.
• How silly does everyone who got worked up about the Syracuse-Kansas who's No. 1 debate feel right now? Kansas will ascend to No. 1, Syracuse will fall to No. 2 or 3 and we can all appreciate another reminder of how insignificant the polls are. This loss may mean Syracuse gets shipped to the West Region, but its No. 1 seed remains safe because there aren't any deserving teams behind the Orange.
• Freedom Hall has hosted six national championship games, a handful of NCAA tournament regional finals and 683 Louisville victories, but it has seldom if ever seen a more a festive crowd than Saturday. Red-clad fans filled the stands long before tip-off and amped up the volume throughout the game, enough to spark the home team to a victory.