Richard Pitino sat anxiously at a U.S. Bank Stadium club room on Selection Sunday this March knowing the Gophers would be picked, but he didn't want to possibly play Louisville in a second-round matchup as some predicted.
"I hope they wouldn't do that," Pitino said then.
Louisville got announced first going to Indianapolis as a No. 2 seed. No mention of Minnesota until the No. 5 seed in Milwaukee. Sigh of relief for the Pitinos. They avoided that awkward feeling like in 2014 when no matter what, father or son had to lose.
Standing in the U.S. coast guard hangar in Puerto Rico three years ago, Rick Pitino looked uneasy after his Louisville men’s basketball team’s 81-68 opening win in the Armed Forces Classic on national TV.
The Cardinals played like a top-10 team should against a non-ranked opponent. They dominated physically, and basically ran away with a game that was no way as close as the final margin.
So why was Rick Pitino so uncomfortable? Well, you probably can guess why.
“I really didn’t want to play this game,” he said afterward. “I hate the fact that we won. … So, for all the exposure, it was great until the end of the game. I'd rather have not played it because my son lost.”
Fast forward to this week, ESPN.com’s Myron Medcalf wrote about matchups college hoops needs right now, mentioning his wanting to see a Pitino vs. Pitino rematch like the rest of us. I tweeted it wouldn’t happen again, because they don’t want to play. Want evidence? How about the awkwardness when they were almost put in that position last season as the first father and son to make the same NCAAs.
But Richard Pitino’s responses to me on Twitter Wednesday make it seem like he's not dreading that Louisville game completely.
We don't???— Richard Pitino (@MNCoachPitino) September 20, 2017
That was in the NCAA tournament. Happy to play them in the regular season— Richard Pitino (@MNCoachPitino) September 20, 2017
I've been told that Louisville and Minnesota have been trying to figure out when to play the past few years, but schedules haven't aligned. Could we have some help Basketball Gods?!
How perfect would it be for the Gophers to meet the Cardinals at U.S. Bank Stadium next November as that still-unannounced warmup game for the 2019 Final Four in Minneapolis? If father and son still want to play each other, then why not in a 60,000-seat stadium?