"This could be the most competitive schedule we have faced," said U of L Coach Rick Pitino, whose team played the nation's 11th-toughest schedule by the ratings percentage index (RPI) last season. "It's a mystery who will be at the top, middle and bottom of the Big East and I'm sure that will make it exciting for fans and the participants. I've had the good fortune at both the professional and collegiate level to play in the best arenas in the country, and the KFC Yum! Center will arguably be the finest arena ever built. I'm sure our fans and players are very excited about our inaugural season there."
The Cardinals will face their first outside competition in an exhibition game against Northern Kentucky on Oct. 31 in the new 22,000-seat KFC Yum! Center. Kentucky Wesleyan, which produced a 29-5 record last season and finished fifth in the final NABC national poll, will provide the opposition in U of L's second exhibition game on Nov. 11 in the KFC Yum! Center.
Fifteen of the Cardinals' first 16 games will be played in the KFC Yum! Center, including the two exhibition contests. U of L will play South Alabama on Dec. 4 and San Francisco on Dec. 8 before its Dec. 11 game against UNLV, which will be the Ninth Annual Billy Minardi Classic. The event is named in memory of Pitino's brother-in-law who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. It has alternated between a four-team tournament and select single game over the years.
The Cardinals next face Drexel - U of L's first-round opponent on its 1986 NCAA Championship run - on Dec. 14 and Gardner-Webb on Dec. 18. Western Kentucky will be the Cards' lone non-conference road game as U of L travels to Bowling Green, Ky. on Dec. 22. NCAA participant Morgan State will provide the opposition on Dec. 27. The Cards follow that contest with their final non-conference game of the season against Kentucky in a CBS-televised contest on Dec. 31.
U of L opens the new year and closes out a home stand facing Seton Hall on Jan. 5 in its first BIG EAST Conference game of the season. U of L will have 15 national television appearances, including seven of its last eight, and 12 of its last 16 games.
The Cards' 18-game league schedule includes two games each against Connecticut, Providence and West Virginia, closing out the regular season at West Virginia on March 5. The BIG EAST Conference Tournament will be staged at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 8-12, with all 18 teams participating for the third straight year.
U of L will return nine lettermen from last year's team which won at least 20 games for the eighth straight season (20-13 record). Louisville earned its 36th NCAA Tournament appearance last season and the Cardinals have reached the NCAA Elite Eight two of the last three years. The men's basketball team earned a collective 3.021 grade point average for the 2010 spring semester, its fourth straight semester with a 3.0 GPA.
Tipoff times and television arrangements for all games are incomplete and will be released at a later date.