The 15-seeded Jacksonville State men's basketball team practiced one final time Thursday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in preparation for its March 19 NCAA Basketball Championship matchup with two-seeded Louisville.
The Gamecocks (20-14) and Cardinals (24-8) go head-to-head Friday at 1:45 p.m. CT on CBS in the Midwest Regional's First Round. It marks just the second meeting between the two programs with Louisville holding a 1-0 advantage.
(Hear from JSU's Greg Tucker and Coach Ray Harper as well as Louisville Coach Rick Pitino in the featured video.)
"We're excited to be here," head coach Ray Harper said. "These kids have worked awfully hard all season long. They were picked to finish last in the Ohio Valley Conference, so we're excited to be here. We're looking forward to a huge challenge tomorrow afternoon against Louisville."
While JSU is making its Big Dance debut, Harper owns a 1-2 record in two tournament appearances. Harper led the Gamecocks to their first Division I championship and NCAA Tournament berth, while also improving on the previous season's record by 10.5 games in just one year at the helm in Jacksonville.
Four of the Gamecocks' five starters enter the contest averaging more than 10 points per game. Juniors Malcolm Drumwright (12.6) and Norbertas Giga (10.4) are the bookends while seniors Greg Tucker (11.3) and Erik Durham (11.1) provide the filler. They became the first quartet to finish the season averaging double figures since 2013.
Louisville goes into the First Round ranked 10th by the Associated Press and ninth in the USA Today pole. The Cardinals finished tied for second in the Atlantic Coach Conference en route to their 42nd tournament appearance. Head coach Rick Pitino owns a 769-270 career record and owns a 53-18 NCAA Tournament record.
(Release Courtesy: JSU Sports Information: www.jsugamecocksports.com)
Game 35 - NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship: First Round
Jacksonville State (20-14, 9-7 OVC) vs. Louisville (24-8, 12-6 ACC)
March 17, 2017 | 1:45 p.m. CT
Indianapolis, Ind. | Bankers Life Fieldhouse (18,165)
Last Meeting: Nov. 17, 2014 @ UL (L, 88-39)
All-Time Series Record: Louisville leads 1-0
Listen: Gamecock Sports Network (WLJS 91.9 FM, WVOK 97.9 FM), Westwood One
Watch: CBS (Jim Nantz, Bill Raftery, Grant Hill and Tracy Wolfson)
(Courtesy: JSU Sports Information: www.jsugamecocksports.com)