"We're probably not going to have Tello for this game," Pitino said. "He's got a strained back, or spasms in his back. He hasn't practiced in three days. He's an accident waiting to happen, so we're used to it."
Palacios, the Cardinals starting power forward, averages 9.4 points and 5.7 rebounds. He would have played key role against the physical Red Storm, a team that man-handled Louisville inside the paint last season in New York.
The 6-8 Palacios played Saturday night in Louisville's dramatic 61-59 victory over Marquette, scoring nine points and six boards in 29 minutes. However, since that contest, Palacios hasn't practiced with the team and his return to the court is unknown at this time.
"It could be a week, it could be a couple days. I just don't know," said Pitino.
It's uncertain who will step in for Palacios, though 6-9 freshman Earl Clark seems like a possible replacement. Clark has stepped his game up in recent weeks, posting consecutive 14 point games against Villanova and Georgetown earlier this month. 6-9 Derrick Caracter, another freshman, has also played well recently and could get the call. U of L coach Rick Pitino could also use a smaller lineup with Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith, Brandon Jenkins at guard, Terrence Williams at power forward and David Padgett at center.
Pitino didn't indicate Tuesday afternoon at his pre-game press conference which player he'd turn to tomorrow against the Red Storm. "I really have no idea how we'll go because I was hoping Juan would be able to go," Pitino said.
Palacios' injury comes just as Louisville finally appeared to have turned the corner. Last week, the Cardinals likely punched their NCAA Tournament card with impressive road wins over nationally-ranked Pittsburgh and Marquette. Those performances promted ESPN's Andy Katz to name Louisville the "Team of the Week."
Palacios scored 18 points and pulled down 9 rebounds in the Cards' victories over the Panthers and Golden Eagles.