Ray Harper, Brandon Harris

NCAA Tournament Cheat Sheet: Getting to know Western Kentucky

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Read through the rest of the Cheat Sheets here.

Conference: Sun Belt

Coach: Ray Harper

Record: 20-15, 10-10

Rankings and Ratings:

– Kenpom: 183
– RPI: 167
– AP/USA Today: N/A

Seeding?: Our Dave Ommen had Western Kentucky as a No. 16 seed in Monday’s bracket projection.

Names you need to know: TJ Price (15.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg), George Fant (12.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg), Jamal Crook (11.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 4.1 apg)

Stats you need to know: There’s only one thing that Western Kentucky does really well: get to the offensive glass. Their offensive rebounding percentage is 34.6%.

Tendencies: The Hilltoppers, in the middle of the season, lost six of eight, nine of 12 and 12 of 16 games. But they won three of their last four heading into the Sun Belt tournament, and then reeled off four wins in four days to earn the trip to the dance.

Big wins, bad losses: WKU had some chances to land a big win in non-conference play, but they whiffed on their chances — the closest they came was taking Southern Miss to overtime.

How’d they get here?: Western Kentucky got lucky when Florida International took out Middle Tennessee State in the semis and earned the automatic bid by beating the Panthers in the Sun Belt title game. For the second year in a row, the Hilltoppers made a run out of nowhere to earn a trip to the Big Dance.

Outlook: WKU has some talented guards and a capable big man in the middle, and it’s fair to say that some of their losses were the result of their best players being hurt. That said, this was a team that couldn’t get over .500 in league play, but the Hilltoppers struggled with injuries throughout conference play. Six of their top eight scorers missed time this season. Part of the reason they’ve won seven of their last eight games is that WKU is finally healthy. Will that be enough to land them an upset?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

AUDIO: Rick Pitino discusses allegations, future at Louisville

Rick Pitino
Associated Press
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Thursday afternoon marked the first time since Friday that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino commented on the controversy that has taken his program by storm. Speaking with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS in Louisville, Pitino discussed the escort scandal, what could have possibly led former staffer Andre McGee down the path he’s alleged to have taken in Katina Powell’s book and his future at Louisville.

The interview began with Meiners asking Pitino if it changed his thinking as to whether or not he needed to resign, which (as one would expect) Pitino shot down. Also discussed was the statement released by school president Dr. James Ramsey, which expressed support for athletic director Tom Jurich but did not mention Pitino at all.

“Well I can’t answer that, Terry,” Pitino said when asked why he wasn’t mentioned in the statement. “Twenty-six years ago Kentucky brought me in to make the program compliant to NCAA rules. (Then-Kentucky president) Dr. (David) Roselle and (then Kentucky athletic director) C.M. Newton thought I was the guy to come in and change around the images, change around the culture and add a lot of discipline to the program. And I did that.

“And then I came here to the University of Louisville, and if someone was five seconds late or not early consequences would be paid from a disciplinary standpoint,” Pitino continued. “This is obviously not a person being late, this is not about a person (not) working hard. This is about things that are very disgusting, things that turn my stomach, things that keep me up without sleeping.

“But unfortunately, I had no knowledge of any of this and don’t believe in it. It’s sickening to me, the whole thing. But I’m thinking of my 13 players, I’m thinking of our program, and I’m sorry that Dr. Ramsey did not think enough to mention me but that’s something I cannot control.”

Below is audio of the full interview, which ran just over 17 minutes in length.

Boise State loses guard Harwell to torn ACL

Leon Rice
Associated Press
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Expected to be one of the favorites in the Mountain West this season, Boise State’s perimeter ranks have shrunk by one player due to injury. Thursday it was reported by the Idaho Statesman that freshman guard Malek Harwell will redshirt after suffering a torn ACL in practice. Along with fellow freshman Paris Austin, Harwell is expected to be a key part of the Broncos’ future beyond the upcoming season.

Now, instead of competing with an experienced backcourt that includes four redshirt seniors, Harwell will work to get his knee back to full strength for the 2016-17 season.

Among the guards who will play significant minutes this season are Anthony Drmic, who took a medical redshirt last season, Montigo Alford, Mikey Thompson and grad transfer Lonnie Jackson (Boston College). Chandler Hutchison, who started in Boise State’s final 18 games of the 2014-15 season as a freshman, will also compete for playing time.