UC Irvine isn't intimidated by Louisville's NCAA tournament history

UC Irvine isn't intimidated by Louisville's NCAA tournament history
UC Irvine Coach Russell Turner says he's "not intimidated" by the reputation of Louisville heading into their NCAA tournament game Friday. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

UC Irvine is best advised to remember this in advance of its first NCAA basketball tournament game.

It is competing against Louisville's basketball team, not its lore.


Irvine definitely lost Thursday's release of pregame notes at the press table in KeyArena. It was a double-bound, double-digit wipeout, sort of like what typically happens when a No. 1 is playing a No. 16.

Louisville sports information staff full-court pressed the Anteaters with an avalanche of NCAA tournament facts and figures. The list went on and on:

•The Cardinals are making their 41st NCAA tournament appearance, fifth behind Kentucky (55), North Carolina (46), UCLA (45) and Kansas (44).

•Louisville has won three national titles, advanced to 10 Final Fours and made 20 appearances in the Sweet 16.

•Did you know this is the ninth time Louisville has entered the NCAA as a fourth-seeded team?

"You have to respect what they've done," Irvine guard Travis Souza said, "…but every year's different."

Irvine attained Division I basketball status in 1977, three years before Louisville won its first NCAA title.

The matchup between coaches, Rick Pitino and Russell Turner, is also one-sided.

Pitino has guided 20 teams to the NCAA tournament. Turner has guided one — this one.

Pitino's record in the tournament is 50-17. He is the first coach to lead two different schools to national titles — Kentucky in 1996, Louisville in 2013 — and has led three teams to the Final Four. Turner is 0-0 in the NCAA tournament.

But don't think for a second that Turner is going to let reputation and history play a part in Friday's East regional game at KeyArena.

"They're not going to see that from me," Turner said, referring to his players. "I'm not intimidated. I don't think our staff's intimidated. I don't believe that they're ever going to think about being intimidated."

It's easy to get caught up with logos and brands in the NCAA, even though Louisville's 2013 national title team bears little resemblance to this one.

Pitino, of course, was the coach of that team, yet Turner said he doesn't attach any extra meaning to the matchup.


"I know we respect them tremendously," Turner said. "I respect Coach Pitino tremendously. I'm sure he's not afraid of facing me. I guarantee you I'm no more afraid of facing him.

"Pound for pound, he's better than I am. Maybe dollar for dollar, I got him."