Fifteen of the Cardinals' games will be played against teams that reached postseason competition last season, including 11 NCAA Tournament and four NIT participants (NCAA: Cincinnati twice, Connecticut twice, Fairleigh Dickinson, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Villanova twice and West Virginia; NIT: DePaul, Miami, Marquette and Notre Dame).
"The most important thing for this team, because of its lack of experience and returning minutes from last year's team, is that we get off to a good start," said U of L Men's Basketball Coach Rick Pitino.
"We're hoping our non-conference home schedule will allow us to be competitive right away before we go into a tough stretch that includes road games at Kentucky and Miami. We'll then enter a new era of BIG EAST Basketball that will probably be the hardest conference schedule in the history of Louisville basketball. My tenure will last probably a year or two after this, and I'll wish everyone well," he joked.
With seven lettermen returning from last year's NCAA Final Four unit that posted a 33-5 record and won the Conference USA championship, the Cardinals will face their first outside competition in an exhibition game against Bellarmine on Nov. 2, the first of 21 home games in Freedom Hall. It will be the first time since 1971 that U of L has faced Division II Bellarmine, coached by former U of L assistant coach Scott Davenport.
U of L will play nine of its first 10 games at home in Freedom Hall, beginning with a Nov. 19 season-opener against Tennessee-Martin. The Cardinals will play their second exhibition contest the next evening on Nov. 20, facing Southern Indiana in Freedom Hall.
After a 13-day layoff, U of L will serve as host on Dec. 3-5 for the Colonial Classic, an exempt event to played in Freedom Hall. The four teams in the event -- Arkansas State, Richmond, Prairie View A&M and host Louisville -- will rotate opponents for three straight days, beginning with the Cardinals facing Prairie View A&M on Dec. 3. U of L will face Arkansas State on Dec. 4 and Richmond on Dec. 5.
The Cards play home games against Akron (Dec. 10) and Chicago State (Dec. 13) before playing at Kentucky on Dec. 17 in the first of three CBS telecasts.
U of L will serve as host for the Billy Minardi Classic Dec. 20-21 in Freedom Hall, an event named in memory of Pitino's brother-in-law who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. The Cards play Middle Tennessee in the Classic's first round on Dec. 20, followed by Florida Atlantic against the College of Charleston. Winners from the two games will play in the championship on Dec. 21, preceded by a consolation game. Detroit is the opposition in a Christmas Eve afternoon game (Dec. 24) in Freedom Hall and the Cardinals face defending Northeast Conference tournament champion Fairleigh Dickinson on Dec. 28.
U of L travels to Miami, Fla. for the MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic on New Year's Eve (Dec. 31). The Cardinals face Miami (Fla.) in the doubleheader at the Office Depot Center in the event which also includes Florida State against Nebraska.
U of L opens the new year and its first season in the BIG EAST Conference against Villanova -- a preseason top ten pick -- on Jan. 5 in Freedom Hall on ESPN2. The Cards' league schedule includes two games each against Cincinnati, Connecticut and Villanova while U of L will not face league members Georgetown or Seton Hall in its initial BIG EAST season.
Aside from the Kentucky game, two additional road games will be televised to national audiences by CBS: Feb. 25 at West Virginia and March 4 at Connecticut. The Cardinals will be featured in seven other network telecasts, including Jan. 21 against Connecticut (ESPN), Jan. 25 vs. Cincinnati (ESPN2), Jan. 28 at Rutgers (ESPN), Jan. 30 at Villanova (ESPN), Feb. 4 vs. Notre Dame (ESPN), and Feb. 6 at Cincinnati (ESPN2), and Feb. 18 at Syracuse (ESPN).
Nine of the Cardinals' last 12 regular season games will appear on national television. The BIG EAST Conference Tournament will be staged at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 8-11.
2005-06 University of Louisville Men's Basketball Schedule
2 BELLARMINE (exhibition) (WHAS)
19 TENNESSEE-MARTIN (WHAS)
20 SOUTHERN INDIANA (exhibition) (WHAS)
3 PRAIRIE VIEW in Colonial Classic
(also Arkansas St. vs. Richmond @ 3:30 p.m.) 4 ARKANSAS ST. in Colonial Classic (WHAS) (also Prairie View vs. Richmond @ 4:30 p.m.)
5 RICHMOND in Colonial Classic (WHAS)
10 AKRON (WHAS)
13 CHICAGO STATE (WHAS)
17 at Kentucky (CBS)
20- BILLY MINARDI CLASSIC (WHAS) 21 First round pairings: Louisville vs. Middle Tennessee; 7:05 p.m. College of Charleston vs. Florida Atlantic 9:30 p.m. 21 consolation game at 5:30 p.m., championship at 8:05 p.m.
24 DETROIT (WHAS)
28 FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON (WHAS)
31 at Miami (Fla.) in MetroPCS Orange Bowl Basketball Classic (TV TBA) Miami, Fla. TBA (Florida St. vs. Nebraska in 2nd game of doubleheader) Office Depot Center
4 NOTRE DAME (ESPN)
6 at Cincinnati (ESPN2)
11 USF (TV TBA)
18 at Syracuse (ESPN)
22 DEPAUL (TV TBA)
25 at West Virginia (CBS)
1 MARQUETTE (TV TBA)
4 at Connecticut (CBS)
8- at BIG EAST Conference Tournament New York, N.Y. TBA Sat. 11
Note: WHAS-TV (Channel 11) is an ABC network affiliate in Louisville. All U of L games are broadcast on the U of LSports Radio Network, which originates on WHAS Radio (840 AM), a 50,000-watt clear-channel station in Louisville.