Edge: Slight Louisville
Frontcourt: Terrence Jennings had a double-double between the two teams in the first meeting, then Gorgui Dieng followed that with a double-double in the second game. Alex Oriaki and Jamal Coombs-McDaniel played well in Louisville as the Cardinals took away the perimeter. Rebounding has been even (75 boards apiece in two games), but Louisville holds the edge in blocked shots, 9-6. The key for Louisville is for Jennings to stay out of foul trouble, something he couldn't do in the last meeting between the two teams.
Defense: Louisville's halfcourt zone has created problems for UConn this season, particularly for Walker, and the Huskies freshmen guards in the second matchup. Louisville held the Huskies to 37 percent shooting and forced 18 turnovers in the last meeting. Louisville shot almost 50 percent at UConn in a double-overtime win and committed only 8 turnovers in the second matchup.
Depth: Jim Calhoun had eight players play 18 or more minutes against Syracuse Friday night in their win over the Orange. That's not counting starting forward Roscoe Smith, who only played five minutes after taking an elbow to the head against Pittsburgh on Thursday. All five of Louisville's starters logged at least 26 minutes against Notre Dame, and only Dieng and Mike Marra played more than four minutes off the bench. Without Rakeem Buckles, Calhoun can look a little deeper down the bench than Rick Pitino.
Coaching: Rick Pitino has taken three different teams to the Final Four and has won the national championship. Jim Calhoun has won six Big East Tournaments, has been inducted into the college basketball Hall of Fame and owns two national titles. Overall, Pitino holds a 15-7 head-to-head advantage over Calhoun, including 6-4 at Louisville.
Head to Head: Louisville seems to have UConn's number lately. The Cards have beaten UConn the past four times the teams have played, including twice this season. Tonight will be the first time the two programs have met in the Big East Championship since Louisville joined the league in 2006.
Crowd Support: It will be the Big East's Old Guard (UConn) vs. the (relatively) New Kids on the Block (Louisville) Saturday night in Madison Square Garden. That fact, plus UConn's close proximity to New York likely will give the Huskies an advantage in fan support. Still, the loud and proud Louisville contingent in MSG will do everything in their power to level the playing field.
Intangibles: Louisville holds the edge in most of the key matchups. The Cardinals have the confidence of knowing they have UConn's number this season, and should be fresher than the deeper Huskies, who will play their fifth game in five days Saturday night. Ultimately, Louisville's tough defense and fresher legs could prove the difference in the Big East title game.