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Ticket Punched: Louisville deserving of No. 1 seed after winning second straight Big East title

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(USA Today Sports Images)

There wasn't much reason to doubt Louisville as a top seed in one of the four regionals in the NCAA tournament prior to Saturday.

But with about 17 minutes left in the Big East championship game against Syracuse, the Cardinals trailed by 16 points and suddenly doubt was an issue hovering over coach Rick Pitino's team. It looked like the Cardinals were on their way to being the latest favorite to fall flat.

Yet, by the time the horn sounded on the final edition of this classic event, Louisville had more than doubled up the Orange in scoring and proven once and for all it is one of the best four teams in the nation.

Louisville turned up the defensive pressure almost like it was flipping a switch and rallied to not just make a game of it, but to overwhelm the Orange 78-61 and win its second straight Big East tournament and its third in five years.

The Cardinals scored an amazing 56 points in the second half while holding Syracuse to 26. It was Louisville's 10th consecutive win. Its last loss was the crazy five-overtime game at Notre Dame on Feb. 9.

Given the way some of the other potential top seeds performed this week, it would be crazy not to consider the Cardinals at least one of the favorites to win it all.

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