The top-seeded Cardinals present a challenge similar to the Oregon football team.

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INDIANAPOLIS — The speed. The quickness. The penchant for causing chaos and mayhem. The ability to take a manageable game and turn it into a blowout in a matter of seconds.

Yeah, Dana Altman and his Oregon Ducks know exactly what they’re up against with Louisville and that hair-on-fire defense. They’ve been watching the Oregon football team wreak the same kind of havoc for years now.

“It’s almost the same situation that our football team runs into when teams are trying to get ready for them. They play so much faster and their team speed is different,” Altman said Thursday. “I don’t think teams can really get ready for our football team. … And I don’t think we can prepare for the speed of Louisville: their quickness, their guard quickness, their overall team speed and the different looks they throw at you.”

The 12th-seeded Ducks (28-8) reached the regional semifinals for the first time since 2007, and their reward is a Friday night date with Louisville.

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The Cardinals (31-5) looked every bit the overall top seed in their first two games, routing North Carolina A&T and Colorado State by an average of 28.5 points while forcing 47 turnovers. “Coach P really gets his teams to play really well around this time of March,” said point guard Peyton Siva, a Franklin High School graduate. “Right now, we’re just trying to continue to keep on the roll.” While defense is the trademark of any Rick Pitino team, these Cardinals have just about perfected his soul-sucking press.

The worst part? It’s impossible to truly prepare for it, especially during the NCAA tournament’s short turnarounds.

“All you really can do is get ready for it, talk about it, know what you’re going to have to do against it, have some break-presses installed,” Oregon forward E.J. Singler said. “That’s what we’ve been doing this past week, really focusing in on breaking the press and being really strong with the ball and limiting our turnovers.”

Zags’ Giacoletti

hired by Drake

DES MOINES, Iowa — Ray Giacoletti was fired by Utah just two seasons after reaching the regional semifinals of the NCAA tournament. The firing devastated Giacoletti, though he wound up at mid-major power Gonzaga.

Six years later, Giacoletti has earned another shot at a head-coaching job with Drake, a mid-major desperate for success anywhere near the level of the Zags.

Drake announced Thursday it had hired the 50-year-old Giacoletti as its new basketball coach. He replaces Mark Phelps, who was fired two weeks ago after five seasons.

Giacoletti, who was also an assistant at Washington under Bob Bender from 1994 to 1997, won 29 games in his first season at Utah, but went 25-34 over the next two seasons.

After being fired, Giacoletti was hired by Gonzaga coach Mark Few, a move he says reinvigorated his career. Giacoletti worked under Few for the past six seasons as Gonzaga won five West Coast Conference titles and reached No. 1 late this season.

“The last six years truly opened my eyes up as far as what it means to be a student-athlete, to do it the correct way with character, work ethic,” said Giacoletti.


• Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg agreed to a new 10-year, $20 million deal with the Cyclones that will run through 2023.

Hoiberg just completed his third season with the Cyclones.

• North Carolina State junior Lorenzo Brown announced his plans to skip his senior season and enter the NBA draft.

• Arkansas’ leading scorer, BJ Young, is entering the NBA draft, said Razorbacks coach Mike Anderson.

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