Saturday, March 15, 2014

Russ Smith Drops In 42 for Louisville; Big 12, PAC-12, American and Big East Championships on Tap for Saturday

College Hoops Player of the Day for Friday, March 14, 2014

Russ Smith isn't the shy or reticent type.

On Friday night, in Louisville's 94-65 victory over Houston in an American conference semi-final, he was completely unreserved, pouring in a career-high 42 points for the fifth-ranked Cardinals.

As often as Smith's exploits have defied description, this single-game extravaganza surely belonged in the range somewhere between Russ-diculous or Russ-tastic, terms reserved only for the Louisville guard.

Hitting 14-for-22 from the field with five of seven falling from beyond the arc, Smith augmented his extraordinary exploit with a 9-for-10 tally from the foul line, adding three assists and a trio of rebounds.

The win sent Louisville to the American tournament final on Saturday to face the Connecticut Huskies, 58-56 winners over Cincinnati in the other semi-final contest.

Gearing up for a full weekend of championship hoops, Saturday offers some of the best match-ups of the season, with a number of the major conferences - and a slew of minor ones - deciding championships. By Sunday afternoon, all 32 automatic bids will have been spoken for, allowing the NCAA tournament committee to release the seedings precisely at 6:00 pm EDT.

The American, Big 12, PAC-12 and Big East will crown champions on Saturday. The action begins at 1:00 (all times EDT) when top-ranked Florida meets Tennessee in an SEC semi-final and Pitt faces Virginia in an ACC semi. Ohio State meets Michigan in a Big Ten semi-final, and, at 3:00, Duke faces NC State in an ACC semi-final.

After (22) Michigan State squares off against (12) Wisconsin in another Big Ten semi, the first championship games of the day begin at 6:00 pm when #20 New Mexico meets #8 San Diego State for the West Coast conference title, UCLA faces #4 Arizona for the PAC-12 crown, and Connecticut and Louisville begin their quest for the American championship.

At 8:30, Providence meets #14 Creighton to decide the Big East, and at 9:00 pm, Baylor meets up with Iowa State to determine the champion of the Big 12.

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