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.