Does the NCAA tournament committee really think we’re going to believe it picked this matchup at random?
One season after the firing of Rick Pitino amid an Earth-shaking FBI investigation, Louisville basketball made its first NCAA Tournament under new head coach Chris Mack as a No. 7 seed.
Its opponent: 10-seed Minnesota. Minnesota’s coach: Richard Pitino, Rick’s son.
That relationship will certainly come up in the run-up and coverage of a game to decide who probably faces No. 2 seed Michigan State. Minnesota players probably aren’t going to want to talk about facing the old program of their coach’s father. Louisville players will likely be even less interested.
Part of that lack of interest would be the extremely fun fact that Pitino’s $38.7 million lawsuit against Louisville for breach of contract is still pending. Louisville has also counterersued Pitino, so the Pitino family is probably pretty resolute in who it wants to come out on top on Thursday.
The elder Pitino has since continued his coaching career in Greece as head coach of local power Panathinaikos. Under Pitino, Panathinaikos is 17-0 in Greek A1 Basketball League play and 13-13 in Euroleague play.
Given that Panathainakos has Euroleague games scheduled the day before and after Thursday, don’t expect to see its head coach in the stands during Louisville-Minnesota.
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