By Mark Gaughan
We interrupt this football blog to give a University of Louisville-focused preview on this weekend's NCAA Division I men's basketball FInal Four in Atlanta.
Bills center Eric Wood has been closely following his alma mater on its run toward what the Cardinals hope will be a third NCAA title (the others came in 1980 and 1986).
Despite the fact the Cardinals are favored by 10 1/2 points over Wichita State in Saturday's semifinal, Wood said he is not taking an appearance in Monday's final for granted. That's especially considering Louisville just lost guard Kevin Ware to a broken leg in the regional final Sunday, putting more pressure on guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.
"No - Ohio state was pretty confident going into Wichita and they shocked em," Wood said. "With Ware out, that leaves us pretty thin in the backcourt. We’ve got to keep Siva and Smith out of foul trouble. Some of their freedom has to do with having a guy like Ware that can come off the bench and not really miss a beat and they can be super aggressive. They may have to change their game a tiny bit."Syracuse meets Michigan in the other semifinal. Louisville went 2-1 against Syracuse this year, including a 78-61 win in the Big East title game.
"I don’t want Syracuse for a fourth time," Wood said. "I was right behind the bench for the Syracuse game at Madison Square Garden. When you see their defense form the floor level, it's intimidating. They’ve got the long guards up front. It looks like there’s nowhere to throw the ball, and I stand 4 inches taller than both of our 1 and 2 guards. It’s a daunting task for those guys, and Ware kind of gave us an advantage as a taller guard being able to throw over them. But you know, there’s good and bad things about playing somebody so many times. But I definitely don’t want to see Syracuse."
Wood suffered a gruesome broken leg injury as a rookie similar to the one Ware sustained.
"I shot him a text yesterday and just said … I went through the same thing in '09 and came back to start the next season and there's no doubt in my mind you will too."