Rick Pitino almost got his wish, with the Key Arena less than two blocks from the Pacific Ocean.
Rick Pitino almost got his wish, with the Key Arena less than two blocks from the Pacific Ocean.

Rick Pitino wanted his University of Louisville basketball team to go West, especially this season to get away from distractions. The Coach actually predicting a couple of days before the Selection Committee met that they would be sent “somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.” One never knows whether he’s being serious or not, but he almost got his wish.

Except that he’s going West as part of the East Regional. Only in the NCAA could that happen.

The opening rounds of the East will be played at the Key Bank Arena in Seattle, less than two city blocks from the Pacific Ocean, at the home of the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics. This week marks the first time the Cardinals have begun the tournament in Seattle.

Key Arena is in the shadow of Seattle's iconic Space Needle landmark.
Key Arena lies in the shadow of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle landmark.

UofL basketball teams have had mixed results going West, eight times in the West Regional, compiling an a 14-7 won-lost record, advancing to the Final Four twice, and winning the national championship once, in 1986.

Denny Crum-coached teams went West six times, winning 10 games (including the 1986 title) and losing four during his 30-year career at UofL. This year will be the third trip for Pitino who has 4-2 record (including a Final four appearance in 2012) when starting near the West Coast.

UofL has some history in the West
(Before going West in the East Regional)

1977 — Lost in first round to UCLA 87-79 at Pocatella, Idaho.

1986 — Beat Drexel 93-73 and Bradley 82-68 in Ogden, Utah. Beat North Carolina 94-79 and Auburn 82-68 in Houston. Beat LSU 88-77 and Duke 72-69 in Dallas for national championship.

1990 — Beat Idaho 78-59 and lost to Ball State 62-60 in Salt Lake City.

1992 — Beat Wake Forest 81-58 and lost to UCLA 85-69 in second round in Tempe, Ariz.

1994 — Beat Boise State 67-58 and Minnesota 60-55 in Sacramento. Lost to Arizona 82-70 in Los Angeles.

2000 — Lost in first round to Gonzaga 77-66 in Tucson.

2011 — Lost in first round to Morehead State 62-61 in Denver.

2012 — Beat Davidson 69-62 and New Mexico 59-56 in Portland, Ore. Beat Michigan State and Florida 72-68 in Phoenix. Lost to Kentucky 69-61 in Final Four in New Orleans.

Note: UofL was in the Mideast Region when it lost to Houston 94-81 in the Final Four at Albuquerque in 1983.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

2 thoughts on “West has had major ups and downs for Louisville basketball”
  1. I’m headed out there again. Always enjoy those trips to the West Coast, even though we’re in the East bracket. Yep, only in the NCAA.

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