Teacher vs. Pupil Matchup Set as Manhattan Draws Louisville in NCAA Tournament | Zagsblog
Recent Posts
About ZagsBlog
Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Follow Zags on Twitter
Couldn't connect with Twitter
Contact Zags
Connect with Zags:
Tuesday / June 18.
  • Teacher vs. Pupil Matchup Set as Manhattan Draws Louisville in NCAA Tournament

    Share Zagsblog Share Zagsblog

    Special to ZAGSBLOG

    When Manhattan was revealed as a No. 13 seed in the loaded Midwest Region during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Sunday evening, it was immediately viewed as a big deal as 13 was thought to be the Jaspers’ high end after winning the MAAC Tournament on Monday evening.

    The opponent waiting for the Jaspers on Thursday in Orlando is No. 4 seed Louisville, which may be seeded too low. The Cardinals have won 12 of 13, romped through the American Athletic Conference Tournament over the weekend and even head coach Rick Pitino proclaimed that his team would probably be a 1-seed. 

    No matter, though, because while the game between the reigning national champion and this season’s MAAC Tournament winner provides intrigue, it pales in comparison to the eye-opening coaching matchup that awaits.

    The ties that bind Jaspers head coach Steve Masiello and Pitino are well-documented and date back to the late 1980’s when, at the age of 12, Masiello was a ball boy for the Knicks when Pitino was the head coach.

    A native of White Plains, Masiello was a freshman on Pitino’s 1997 Kentucky squad, which advanced to the national championship game before losing in overtime to Arizona. In 2005, Pitino hired Masiello at Louisville, where he became one of the nation’s elite assistant coaches before taking over as the head coach in Riverdale in 2011.

    As Masiello has re-invigorated the mid-major program, he and Pitino have remained close. After Manhattan topped Iona on Monday evening to win the MAAC title, one of the first text messages he received was from his mentor. Now, Masiello has the unenviable task of squaring off against him.

    “It’s just one of those things where not only are you going against a terrific basketball team, forget that they’re playing the best basketball of anyone in the country, forget that they have a Hall of Fame coach, it’s a team that knows everything we’re gonna do because everything we do here is what I learned under Coach Pitino,” Masiello told SNY.tv’s Jeane Coakley shortly after the announcement.

    Manhattan and Louisville are part of a Midwest Region which, while the Selection Show was ongoing, was quickly dubbed the ‘Region of Death.’

    Undefeated and 34-0 Wichita St. is the No. 1 seed, but faces the possibility of playing either No. 8 seed Kentucky or No. 9 seed Kansas St. in the round of 32. No. 2 seed Michigan is also a threat to advance to North Texas and the Final Four, as is No. 3 seed Duke. The Wolverines and Blue Devils lost in the titles games of the Big Ten and ACC, respectively, on Sunday afternoon.

    “We’re proud to go out and represent New York right now and kind of have New York on our back go down to Orlando and we’re gonna play with a lot of pride that we know we’re representing the greatest city in the world,” Masiello said. “That means something to us and today was a reflection of that.”

    Follow Josh Newman on Twitter

  • } });