Cards Big East hoops schedule released

Louisville's 2008-09 Big East basketball schedule was released Wednesday. The Cardinals, who advanced to the Elite Eight last season, will play Notre Dame, West Virginia and USF twice each.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The University of Louisville*s 2008-09 men's basketball season in the BIG EAST Conference will include a challenging slate of 18 games, including two games each against Notre Dame, West Virginia and USF.

The Cardinals will face an 18-game conference schedule in which teams will face all BIG EAST teams, plus repeat games against three opponents. Louisville's home conference opponents will include Connecticut, DePaul, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Providence, Seton Hall, USF and West Virginia. The Cardinals nine league road games will be at Cincinnati, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Rutgers, St. John's, USF, Syracuse, Villanova and West Virginia.

Earl Clark and the Cards will face a stern Big
East schedule next season.

"As tough as our schedule was last season, this year our BIG EAST and non-conference schedule could be the toughest we have ever faced," said U of L Coach Rick Pitino, whose team played the nation's sixth-toughest schedule by the ratings percentage index (RPI) last season. "With as many as nine BIG EAST teams ranked in the early top 25 rankings, this could be the strongest season for the league since its inception. We look forward to the challenge and I know it will be fun for our fans and players alike."

Seven BIG EAST Conference teams were in the among the nation's top 25 in a recent ranking by's Andy Katz, including three of the first five picks - No. 2 Pittsburgh, No. 4 Notre Dame, and No. 5 Louisville. U of L is second nationally in a preseason ranking by Gary Parrish, one of seven BIG EAST teams among the top 16. The Cardinals are No. 6 in a similar ranking by Jeff Goodman of with eight BIG EAST teams are in the listing.

U of L will return four starters, seniors Terrence Williams and Andre McGee, and juniors Earl Clark and Jerry Smith, from a team which posted a 27-9 record, was runner-up in the BIG EAST Conference, and reached the NCAA Elite Eight for the third time in 11 years. The Cardinals will welcome seven newcomers, including 2008 USA Today high school player of the year Samardo Samuels, a 6-8 forward/center.

U of L's complete schedule, including dates and times for the BIG EAST games, is expected in early September.

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