At least 14 of the Cardinals' games will be played against teams that reached postseason competition last season, including nine NCAA Tournament and five NIT participants (NCAA: Charlotte, Cincinnati twice, DePaul, Florida, Kentucky, Memphis twice, and UAB; NIT: Iowa, Marquette twice, Saint Louis, and Tennessee).
"This is a schedule that is typical for U of L," said U of L Men's Basketball Coach Rick Pitino. "We open in one of the premier college basketball events at the EA Sports Maui Invitational, which includes a very strong field. We will compete early on against several top 20 caliber teams, have a lot of home games early on to help us get off to a good start, and will then move into a very difficult Conference USA schedule. Our dark days of February -- when the openings to play at Freedom Hall are limited -- shouldn't be quite as bad as in the past, because we were able to get a home game in during what used to be a long road stretch."
With nine lettermen returning from U of L's 20-10 campaign which featured a 16-game winning streak and a berth in the NCAA Tournament, the Cardinals will face their first outside competition in an exhibition game against Kentucky Wesleyan on Nov. 3, the first of 19 home games in Freedom Hall. It will be the first time U of L has faced Division II Kentucky Wesleyan since 1983, with the Cards holding a 51-18 all-time series advantage.
U of L will open its 2004-05 season against Iowa on Nov. 22 in the 21st Annual EA Sports Maui Invitational Basketball Tournament at the Lahaina Civic Center on the Hawaiian island of Maui. Other first-round matchups, all of which are televised by ESPN2, include host Chaminade against Texas, BYU vs. North Carolina, and Stanford against Tennessee. U of L will face either Chaminade or Texas in the second round of the event on Nov. 23 with the final round being played on Nov. 24. ESPN and ESPN2 will also televise selected second and third round games, potentially increasing the Cards' national television games to 16.
After returning from Hawaii, the Cardinals will play nine of their next 10 games at home in Freedom Hall, beginning with a Dec. 4 game against Lafayette. U of L will play its second exhibition contest on Dec. 7, facing Lindsey Wilson in Freedom Hall.
U of L will visit Florida in an ESPN-televised contest on Dec. 11 before returning home on Dec. 14 to face North Carolina A & T, a team coached by former U of L guard and assistant coach Jerry Eaves. The Cardinals will play intrastate rival Kentucky on Dec. 18 in Freedom Hall in an ESPN telecast.
U of L will serve as host for the Billy Minardi Classic Dec. 21-22 in Freedom Hall, an event named in memory of Pitino's brother-in-law who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The Cards play IUPUI in the Classic's first round on Dec. 21, followed by New Orleans against Austin Peay. Winners from the two games will play in the championship on Dec. 22, preceded by a consolation game. A pair of in-state foes follow on the Cards' schedule: Dec. 27 vs. Morehead State and Dec. 30 vs. Eastern Kentucky.
U of L will open the new year against Tennessee State on Jan. 2 before embarking upon its 16-game Conference USA slate on Jan. 5 at Houston. As with last year's league schedule, all of the 14 C-USA schools will face each other in addition to three mirror games based on geography, rivalries and television. Cincinnati, Marquette and Memphis are again the teams U of L will face twice.
Aside from the Kentucky game, five additional home games will be televised to national audiences by ESPN: Jan. 22 vs. Tennessee, Jan. 26 vs. Marquette, Feb. 2 vs. Cincinnati, Feb. 9 vs. Memphis and March 3 vs. Charlotte. The Cardinals will be featured in six other network telecasts, including Jan. 11 at Southern Mississippi (ESPN2), Jan. 15 at Cincinnati (CBS), Feb. 5 at UAB (ESPN2), Feb. 17 at Marquette (ESPN), Feb. 26 at Memphis (ESPN) and March 5 at DePaul (ESPN).
Ten of the Cardinals' last 14 regular season games will appear on national television. The C-USA Tournament will be staged at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn. on March 9-12.
Over the last 21 years, all but nine U of L basketball games have been televised on either a live or delayed basis. WDRB-TV (Channel 41), a FOX affiliate in Louisville, or its sister station WFTE-TV (Channel 58), will televise 15 U of L games through local origination and an ESPN Plus regional telecast. All U of L games will be broadcast on 50,000-watt clear-channel WHAS Radio (840 AM) in Louisville and other affiliates throughout the region.
11/3 Kentucky Wesleyan (Exhibition)
11/22 Iowa (Maui Inv.) ESPN2 5:00 PM
11/23 Texas or Chaminade (Maui Inv.) ESPN 7:00 PM
11/24 TBD (Maui Inv.)
12/7 Lindsey Wilson (Exhibition)
12/11 @ Florida
12/14 North Carolina A & T 7:00 PM
12/18 Kentucky (ESPN) 12:00
12/21 IUPUI (Billy Minardi Classic) 7:00 PM
12/22 Austin Peay or New Orleans (Billy Minardi Classic Championship)
12/27 Morehead State
12/30 Eastern Kentucky
3/3 Charlotte (ESPN2)
3/5 @ Depaul (ESPN2) 11:00 AM
3/9 C-USA Tournament (Memphis, Tenn.) 12:00 PM
3/10 C-USA Tournament (Memphis, Tenn.) 12:00 PM
3/11 C-USA Tournament (Memphis, Tenn.) 12:00 PM
3/12 C-USA Tournament (Memphis, Tenn.) 11:00 AM