Is There A Secret Upset Brewing In The Manhattan-Louisville Game?

  • Eric Goldschein

rick pitinoThe NCAA Tournament has begun, and so it’s too late to make any changes to your bracket. But we’ll go ahead and share this valuable piece of intel that might have factored into your pick for the second-round matchup between Manhattan and Louisville.

To recap: Louisville is a popular pick for the Final Four. Obama likes them. Nate Silver really likes them. Meanwhile, Manhattan isn’t even in Manhattan, it’s in the Bronx. Almost nobody talked about Manhattan’s chances to advance past the first round (because, for the record, they were given an 0.88% chance to make the Final Four).

But did you know that Manhattan coach Steve Masiello is Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s former assistant, and that Masiello tries to emulate the Louisville program at his school, and that the two teams are remarkably similar?

Pitino does, of course, and he’s mad about it. From CBS:

“I think the pairings sometimes lack common sense,” Pitino said. “I don’t think they would put somewhere down the road Duke-North Carolina so … the matchups don’t make sense to me. I’m OK with the seedings. I’m not OK with the matchups.

“But the selection committee is very fair, very honorable, very honest people, so I can’t protest too much because they’re doing the best job that they can do. Maybe they’re a bunch of soccer ADs, I don’t know.”

“We press like him, we trap like him, his offensive sets are just like ours,” Pitino said. “That’s why I don’t like the game. I don’t think it’s fair. I don’t like it. I don’t know why they would do it. I just don’t like the game at all for either one of us. We won the national championship and obviously we’re more heralded, but this is anybody’s game. This is not a 1-16.”

Masiello is also upset, saying that Pitino “means the world to him” and that playing against him in the first round takes some of the fun out of being in the tournament. This is one of sports’ most underrated bromances, clearly.

So what does that mean for their matchup (9:50 PM ET, tonight)? Odds are still heavily, heavily, heavily in Louisville’s favor, but Manhattan probably has a better chance than any other 13-seed to bust Louisville’s title hopes early, not to mention millions of brackets. Sorry we didn’t mention that earlier!

Photo via Getty