Sweet 16 or Bust!

Hoping to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since it's Final Four run in 2004-05, the U of L Cardinals look to slow down All-American point guard Acie Law and upset No.3 seed Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon at Rupp Arena.

It's going to take a near perfect game for Louisville to defeat No.3 seed Texas A&M Saturday afternoon at Rupp Arena in Lexington. Led by All-American point guard Acie Law, A&M (26-6) ranks among the nation's leaders in multiple statistical categories, both offensively and defensively.

"In all my years of coaching, Texas A&M is one of the most statistically overpowering teams that I've ever seen," said U of L head coach Rick Pitino.

The Aggies are deadly from beyond the three-point arc. A&M ranks third in the nation in three-point accuracy, connecting on 42 percent of their attempts. Before you consider that the game might develop into a three-point shooting contest, consider that fact that the Aggies are even better at defending the long ball. Opponents have shot just a touch over 32 percent from three, making A&M the second toughest team to shoot against in the country.

"They are the most overpowering team that I've seen from a statistical percentage since I've been coaching in terms of field goal offense, field goal defense, three-point field goal percentage and three-point field goal defense," continued Pitino. "They also have, after watching all this tape, the best point guard in the nation."

David Padgett, who scored 16 points in Louisville's 78-58 win against Stanford on Thursday, added that these are the type of games that make any team's tournament run a memorable one.

"It should be a fun game," said Padgett. "The further you go in the tournament the more fun it gets. They are an extremely good team and they have been ranked in the top 10 all year. It is going to be a fun game and I am looking really forward to it."

Defensively, the Cardinals numbers over the past nine games, eight of which were wins, compare favorably to A&M's. Collectively, opponents have connected on just 32.2 percent of their three-point attempts and only 39.2 percent from the field.

"We have to do what we have been doing," said Padgett. "We are not going to change anything too drastically. We have to do what got us here. We can't come to the tournament and change everything because of one certain team. We just have to keep playing the way we have been playing and see if we can get a win."

For Louisville to win it must slow down A&M's All-American guard. Law does it all for the Aggies. He averages 18 points, 5.2 assists and is the team leader with 39 steals. He shoots 51 percent from the floor and 45 percent from beyond the three-point arc.

Freshman Edgar Sosa, a Big East All-Rookie Team selection, has the pleasure of trying to slow down Law.

"I am looking forward to it," said Sosa. "He is a great player and he has a great game but I will just have to defend him as hard as I can. I want to make him go into my big men and get my big men to help. We are going to try and keep the ball out of Acie's hands. We know when he has the ball he creates a lot of opportunities for his players. We just want to keep the ball away from him and let someone else run the show."

Sosa and the rest of the Cardinals will receive plenty of help from a Rupp Arena crowd that is expected to consist of 15,000 or more U of L fans.

"It does a lot when the crowd is behind you when you score a basket or get a defensive stop," said sophomore Terrence Williams. "You can't really put too much into the crowd helping us win the game. It helps you through the hard times, but the crowd can't score you a basket."

Playing down the home crowd advantage prior to the tournament's opening-round, head coach Rick Pitino seems to now admit that it could be of some benefit.

"It was something I really tried not to talk about before the tournament," said Pitino, who could notch career win 494 on Saturday. "We were happy to not have very far to travel, but we don't worry about the crowd positively or negatively. I think where the crowd helps you in certain games is when momentum is going the other way. Sometimes teams can give in and the crowd stops you from giving in."

Louisville and Texas A&M will tip-off at approximately 3:40 p.m.


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