At least sixteen of the Cardinals' games will be played against teams that reached postseason competition last season, including 12 NCAA Tournament and four NIT participants (NCAA: Arizona, Connecticut twice, Georgetown, Kentucky, Marquette twice, Northwestern State, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall, Syracuse, and Villanova; NIT: Cincinnati, Miami, Notre Dame and St. Joseph's).
"I think the most important thing is for us to use our non-conference games as preparation for a very difficult Big East Conference schedule," said U of L Head Coach Rick Pitino. "We will be challenged very early with the likes of Northwestern State -- who reached the NCAA Tournament Second Round last year -- Arizona, Miami, Kentucky, St. Joseph's and UMass to name a few. It will be a very competitive schedule. The big key for us right now is to get healthy and get ready for the start of the season."
With four starters returning from last year's team that produced a 21-13 record and reached the national semifinals of the NIT, the Cardinals will face their first outside competition in an exhibition game against Bellarmine on Nov. 1, the first of 22 home games in Freedom Hall.
U of L will play 12 of its first 14 games at home in Freedom Hall, beginning with a Nov. 18 season-opener against Northwestern State, which posted a 26-8 record last season and beat No. 3 seed Iowa in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals will play their second exhibition contest the next evening on Nov. 19, facing Kentucky Wesleyan in Freedom Hall.
U of L will make its first national television appearance of the season with a CSTV-televised game on Nov. 24 against Dayton, a game which will be played at US Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio. After playing Sacramento State in Freedom Hall on Dec. 2, U of L will face Arizona in the ESPN-televised Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 5, a game played in New York's Madison Square Garden. Syracuse faces Oklahoma State in the first game of the doubleheader.
U of L will serve as host on Dec. 8-10 for the NABC Classic, an exempt event played in Freedom Hall. The Cardinals will join St. Joseph's, Ohio University and a team to be named in the event, with each team rotating opponents for three straight days. The Cardinals will also serve as host for the Billy Minardi Classic Dec. 13 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. This year's event will feature a single game against Massachusetts.
Kentucky will provide the opposition for a Dec. 16 CBS telecast in Freedom Hall. The Cardinals will close out the year with five additional home games against Savannah State (Dec. 20), Miami, Fla. (Dec. 23, ESPN), Northeastern (Dec. 27), San Francisco (Dec. 28), and UNC Asheville (Dec. 30).
U of L opens the new year and its second season in the BIG EAST Conference at Notre Dame on Jan. 3. The Cards' league schedule includes two games each against Connecticut, Marquette and USF while U of L will not face league members Rutgers or West Virginia this season.
The Cardinals will play Marquette on Jan. 15 in the first of four straight games on ESPN, a stretch which also includes Jan. 20 at DePaul, Jan. 22 vs. Connecticut, and Jan. 27 vs. Syracuse.
Six of the Cardinals' seven games during the month of February will also be national telecasts: Feb. 3 at Villanova (ESPN), Feb. 7 vs. Georgetown (ESPN), Feb. 12 at Pittsburgh (ESPN), Feb. 17 at Marquette (ESPNU), Feb. 21 vs. St. John's (ESPN2), and Feb. 25 at Connecticut (CBS).
Ten of the Cardinals' last 13 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 7-10.
Tipoff times and television arrangements for all games are incomplete.