Louisville has "eyes on a championship"

NEW YORK - It's a new season. The University of Louisville men's basketball team has a goal of winning nine straight games and claiming the school's third national title. The quest will begin on Thursday at the Big East Tournament. Cardinal Authority is on site and will have all the coverage of the event.

University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has the Cardinals geared up and ready for another run at tournament time.

The Cardinals have won seven in a row, claimed a share of the Big East regular-season title and are one of the favorites for the Big East Tournament. The Cardinals won't play until Thursday at 7 p.m. in Madison Square Gardens.

"Our eyes are on a championship," junior Luke Hancock said.

Added senior guard Peyton Siva: "We're getting better at the right time. When we put our minds to it, we can accomplish anything."

The goal is now to win nine games, which would mean the school's third national title and first since 1986. But before the Cardinals can worry about the NCAA, it's hopefully three wins in the Big East.

Pitino has the Cardinals ready once again after winning the title in 2009 and last season and making it to the title game two years ago.

"I'm a big tournament guy," Pitino said. "The mental preparation is so great for a team to see all these different things. And that's why I've always put so much emphasis on conference tournaments at the end of the year."

After going 1-3 in the first three years of being in the league, the Cardinals have gone 9-2 in three years and are ready for another run.

The Cardinals will start off against either Villanova or St. John's. Those teams play in the 7 p.m. game on Wednesday.

Villanova beat U of L 73-64 on Jan 22, while the Cardinals downed St. John's 72-58 on Feb. 14 – the first game of the seven-game winning streak.

"We are not going to sneak up on anybody," Hancock said. "We're confident but we're not cocky. Our confidence grew at the end of the season.

"Everybody is getting comfortable. When we follow our scouting reports we feel like that we can be dangerous."

The Cardinals are projected as a No. 1 or 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament when the brackets are announced on Sunday. But for now, the focus is on the Big East.

It will be a nostalgic week in the Big Apple. This will be the final Big East Tournament as we know it with all of the conference realignment.

"It's going to be special," Pitino said. "The last Big East is going to be so special. It's been a great run. I know I am sad about it breaking up, but that's life."

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