Cards have much at stake against Marquette

Needing a win - or two - to secure a spot in next week's Big East Tournament in New York, Louisville (17-10, 5-9) has much at stake tonight when rival Marquette visits Freedom Hall.

If Louisville (17-10, 5-9) has designs on making it to New York next week for the Big East Tournament, the Cardinals probably need to win at least one of their next two games. But that won't be an easy task, not with Marquette and Connecticut standing in the way.

"Basically, if we win one of the next two games we're in good shape to make it to New York," Pitino said Tuesday at his weekly press conference.

The Cardinals best chance for a win figures to be tonight when the Golden Eagles come to town. Coming off an impressive win at Notre Dame, Marquette has proven capable of beating anyone in the league this season.

"They're playing great basketball," Pitino said. "They beat UConn, Georgetown and Pittsburgh this season. They have a nice mix of seniors and young players."

Marquette is led by senior forward Steve Novak. Louisville fans have become quite familiar with the 6'10 Novak. Two years ago, Novak single-handily beat Louisville in Freedom Hall with an impressive shooting performance. Earlier this season, Novak scored 41 points to lead an impressive upset over UConn.

"He's improved his game," said Pitino. "He's 6'10, he has unbelievable range and he makes contested shots."

Senior guard Taquan Dean will play his last college game tonight in Freedom Hall. He knows the stakes for his team. He also knows Marquette presents a formidable challenge.

"We have a lot at stake," Taquan Dean said. "Tom Crean and Marquette aren't an easy team to go against for this type of game. We know it's going to be physical. This is a bitter rival and we've got to be ready."

Coming off a 68-64 loss at West Virginia, Pitino knows his team has to bring its ‘A' game tonight to beat Marquette.

"Right now we have to focus on making it to New York and it starts tonight against Marquette," Pitino said. "We need to play a great game to win, and we need our crowd to take it to another level. It's going to take more than hard work to beat Marquette, it's going to take great execution."

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