Apr 5, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Louisville Cardinals some of the support staff wear t-shirts supporting injured player Kevin Ware during practice for the Final Four at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Mandatory Credit: Sean Dougherty - USA TODAY Sports

Preview: #1 Louisville vs #9 Wichita State

Apr 3, 2013; Louisville, KY, USA; Louisville Cardinals player Kevin Ware (right) and head coach Rick Pitino attend a press conference at the KFC Yum! Center practice facility. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Borton/Special for the Louisville Courier-Journal via USA TODAY Sports

First off, I’d just like to take a moment and say sorry for not posting for the past few days.  I’ve been on vacation, so I didn’t have time to write during that time.  In that time, I was unable to post about quite possibly the most memorable game in a long time for Louisville fans.  In a game against a strong Blue Devils team that had already beaten a Dieng-less Cards team earlier in the season, the Cards were able to keep things even with Duke up through most of the first half.

Then the unthinkable happened.  Later in the first half, Kevin Ware landed on his right leg, promptly breaking it.  In what is one of, if not the worst sports injury of all time, Ware’s leg was broken and bone was exposed.  An even more emotional weight was added when Louisville players like Russ Smith and Peyton Siva were seen weeping on the court, and Coach Pitino was wiping away tears.  The Blue Devils and Coach K were even emotionally effected by the injury and the pure emotion shown by this close team.  In the end, Louisville was able to rally and beat Duke by 22 to head to Atlanta.  Ware had surgery that night, and Coach Pitino stayed with him.  The thoughts and prayers of everyone at Big Red Louie and Cardnation is with Kevin Ware, wishing him a good recovery.

So here we are.  Atlanta.  The Final Four.  The second year in a row.  Instead of playing an extremely tough Kentucky team, this year the Cards are playing the Wichita State Shockers, a nine seed coming out of the West Region-a region plagued with upsets.  Favored by 10.5 to 11 points (depending on who you ask), the Cards look to be poised to play very well against Wichita State.   Then again, that’s what the Buckeyes thought.  Wichita State is a good team, don’t get me wrong.  They’re a good rebounding team with good scorers that should be able to put up a fight against Louisville.  But the question is how long will they keep up?  Duke was able to stick with Louisville, but after halftime, Siva was back in and Duke’s Kelly was still in foul trouble.  Couple that with the extreme motivation to win for Ware, and this Louisville team just exploded in all facets of the game.  They were able to have their way with the Blue Devils and pull out a 22-point victory against the Midwest’s 2-seed.

Louisville is on a mission.  As if their goal of winning a national championship wasn’t enough fuel to the fire, the injury just added even more motivation.  The goal to win one for Ware.  Louisville is two wins away from that sweet taste of victory.  A taste not savored by the Derby City since 1986.  But right now, the Cards are looking straight forward at tomorrow’s game.  Win, play for a national title.  Lose, end up right where last year’s team finished, and be the losers in one of the biggest upsets in tournament history.  They will need to focus and not lose sight of their goals.  The minute they forget what they’re working towards is the minute the buzzer sounds and the Cards go home as simply a Final Four team, getting to watch Syracuse, Michigan, or Wichita State cut down the nets.  Gametime at 6:09 tomorrow.  Go Cards.

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Tags: Basketball Louisville Basketball Louisville Cardinals NCAA Tournament

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