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 Cardinal Question
Mike and Mike: Louisville finished No. 4 in the nation but got a No. 4 seed in the tourney, and Dickie V wonders why.

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Pearl could be this year's rising star


March 17, 2005 | ESPN.com's NCAA Tournament coverage

Shock City already in the NCAA Tournament, baby! The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the No. 12 seed in the Chicago Regional, stunned No. 5 seed Alabama – a team many thought could be a sleeper in this tourney.

The Crimson Tide came into this game with the dangerous scoring combination of senior guard Earnest Shelton and junior forward Kennedy Winston, but the gutsy kids from Milwaukee didn't care.

Kennedy Winston
Alabama forward Kennedy Winston's 20 points weren't enough to help the Tide win.
The Wisconsin-Milwaukee team is made up of a bunch of junior college kids who were put together beautifully by coach Bruce Pearl. This is the third year in a row that Pearl has taken his team to 20 wins or more.

What Panthers fan doesn't remember two years ago when Wisconsin-Milwaukee lost in a one-point heartbreaker to Notre Dame?

But today was a day of jubilation for Panthers fans as a David beat a Goliath. What a magical moment for those fans as senior guard Ed McCants and junior forward Joah Tucker played brilliant basketball and sparked the Panthers to the winner's circle.

Horizon Conference commissioner Jon LeCrone must be ecstatic for his conference, which doesn't receive much publicity or notoriety.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee will play Boston College in the second round Saturday (BC defeated Penn in Thursday's first-round action). Coach Pearl is a Boston College graduate who coached at BC under Tom Davis. Now he's getting ready to make his mark.

Could Pearl be this year's Trent Johnson? Remember, Johnson's Nevada team did an amazing job in last year's tourney, beating Gonzaga and Michigan State and advancing to the Sweet 16.

That success played a large part in Johnson moving on and getting the Stanford job when it opened up. Pearl could be this year's rising star.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question to Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.

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