DePaul Blue Demons vs. Louisville Cardinals – Saturday, February 20th, 1:00 p.m. Central – Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
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Inside the Ville
The Louisville Cardinals (17-9, 8-5) come into Allstate Arena on Saturday afternoon on top of the NCAA tournament bubble. DePaul (8-17, 1-12) is looking to pop that bubble and disappoint the 5,000 plus Louisville fans that are expected to make the trip to Chicago.
DePaul interim coach Tracy Webster believes that the Big East conference will get six or seven spots in the NCAA tournament.
"I would say maybe six or seven teams," said Webster. "It's an unbelievable conference, you just never know."
With five Big East teams ranked in the top 25, that leaves Louisville fighting with other schools for one of the last two spots in the field.
The Cardinals kept their chances alive on Wednesday night with a 91-89 double-overtime win over visiting Notre Dame.
Louisville big man Samardo Samuels finished with a career high 36 points in that contest and scored 16 from the free throw line. The Blue Demons have not faired well against the league's premier big men this season and Samuels is one of the best. Webster will need to find some way to contain and limit Samuels.
Then there is Louisville's pressure defense, which is designed to force DePaul turnovers, to deal with. The only other team in the Big East that comes remotely close to the Cardinals' press is Seton Hall and DePaul didn't handle the Pirates' pressure with poise last weekend.
"They do a really good job with their press," Webster said. "Seton Hall they'll pressure you with their defense, but Louisville they'll just keep coming the entire game. It's going to be a non-stop game defensively and they'll attack you offensively. You always have to be ready for it and be ready for their zone defense as well as their pressure defense. You have to attack back as well."
The Cardinals have had a disappointing season thus far and have had to deal with off the court distractions and unexpected losses.
It all began with the off-season news of Louisville coach Rick Pitino's lurid affair with Karen Sypher which brought embarrassment upon Pitino.
Then the season brought a stretch where the Cardinals lost three of four non-conference games at UNLV and at home to Charlotte and Western Carolina. Coupled with league losses at St. John's and Providence and the worries over making the NCAA tournament began.
Then came the rumors that Pitino is a candidate to become the next coach of the New Jersey Nets. Pitino denied the rumors, but it served as yet another distraction for his team as they lost at St. John's 74-55.
For DePaul to have a chance in this one, they will have to get off to a good start, handle the ball against the press, and play with the kind of emotion and chip on their shoulder they had when they defeated Marquette last month.
As evidenced by Tuesday's loss to Rutgers, they will also have to bring it for a full 40 minutes.
"Our guys have really played well for 25 to 30 minutes, we're continuing to try to improve on that," said Webster. "Hopefully we can get a 40 minute game out of our guys.
The Last Time
In February of 2009, No. 5 Louisville came away with a 99-54 win over DePaul at Freedom Hall.
Earl Clark poured in a near triple-double - 12 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for the Cardinals. Sophomore guard Preston Knowles contributed with 19 points in 13 minutes.
Dar Tucker scored 17 points - including an incredible windmill dunk off an alley-oop - to lead DePaul, which shot 34.5 percent (20 of 58) from the field.
NO NAME HT WT POS CL HOMETOWN (PREVIOUS SCHOOL)
2 Preston Knowles 6-1 190 G JR Winchester, Ky. (George Rogers Clark)
3 Peyton Siva 6-0 175 G FR Seattle, Wash. (Franklin)
4 Rakeem Buckles 6-8 215 F FR Miami, Fla. (Monsignor Pace)
5 Chris Smith 6-2 200 G JR Millstone, N.J. (Manhattan)
10 Edgar Sosa 6-2 175 G SR New York, N.Y. (Rice)
11 Chris Brickley 6-4 185 G SR Manchester, N.H. (Southern New Hampshire)
12 Reginald Delk 6-5 200 G SR Jackson, Tenn. (Mississippi State)
14 Kyle Kuric 6-4 190 G SO Evansville, Ind. (Memorial)
15 Samardo Samuels 6-9 260 F SO Trelawny, Jamaica (St. Benedict Prep)
21 Jared Swopshire 6-8 220 F SO St. Louis, Mo. (IMG Academy)
22 George Goode 6-8 230 F SO Raytown, Mo. (Raytown South)
23 Terrence Jennings 6-10 240 F SO Sacramento, Calif. (Notre Dame Prep)
32 Richie Phares 6-7 225 F FR Georgetown, Ky. (Scott County)
33 Mike Marra 6-5 200 G FR Smithfield, R.I. (Northfield Mt. Hermon School)
34 Jerry Smith 6-2 190 G SR Wauwatosa, Wis. (East)
44 Stephan Van Treese 6-9 230 F FR Indianapolis, Ind. (Lawrence North)
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