Cards getting ready for No. 1 Pittsburgh

No. 20 Louisville (12-3, 3-0) is red-hot. The Cardinals have won four straight games, including back-to-back wins over Top 20 opponents. Now Louisville is preparing for a big visit from No. 1 Pittsburgh (16-0, 4-0) this Saturday.

Louisville is coming off their best performance of the year – a thrilling 87-73 overtime victory over Notre Dame Monday night. Louisville blitzed the Irish in OT 16-2, holding the high-scoring Irish to just 1of 8 shooting in the extra period.

While the Cards' defense turned the tide in their favor against No. 13 Notre Dame, Louisville coach Rick Pitino came away pleased with his team's offensive execution against the Irish. Louisville dished out 21 assists while committing only nine turnovers against Notre Dame. The Cardinals also had balanced scoring with four players in double figures and out-scored Luke Harangody and the Irish 40-22 in the paint. In OT, Louisville made 5 of 7 shots and all five of their free throw attempts.

Senior point guard Levance Fields leads
Pittsburgh's top-ranked attack.

"I didn't think I'd see this early in the season how intelligent we were running our offense down the stretch," Pitino said. "I didn't know if I'd see it until February. We were brilliant in terms of inside/outside, reversing it and doing all the good things. We rebounded and played great defense."

After back-to-back wins over Top 20 opposition, Louisville won't get a breather with top-ranked Pittsburgh coming in Saturday night. The Panthers, one of three unbeaten teams left in the nation, beat USF 75-62 at home Wednesday night. Tyrell Biggs led four Panthers in double-figures with 16 points against the Bulls.

"I think by far Pitt is the favorite (in the Big East)," Pitino said recently. "They've got a senior point guard (Levance Fields). They've got a dominating inside presence (DeJuan Blair). They have the most veterans back in terms of understanding their system. And I think they play outstanding defense."

Pittsburgh leads the Big East in rebound margin and scoring margin. The Panthers are 2nd in the NCAA in rebound margin at +10.7. They're also 3rd nationally in assist to turnover ratio, 5th nationally in scoring margin at +19.3, and 13th in field goal percentage defense at .377. Pittsburgh is ranked No. 2 in the RPI and Sagarin Ratings.

"Pitt doesn't have a weakness," said Pitino.

Senior forward Sam Young has scored in double figures in 15 of 16 games this season and leads the Panthers in scoring (18.7 ppg). Sophomore center DeJuan Blair has 11 double-doubles on the year and averages 14.7 points and 13.0 rebounds, third best in the nation. Senior guard Levance Fields leads the BIG EAST in assists, averaging 7.1 while scoring 10.3 points per game.

Louisville and Pittsburgh split two meetings last season. Louisville beat the Panthers 75-73 at Pittsburgh during the regular-season, while Pittsburgh won 76-69 in overtime in the Big East quarterfinals.

Cardinal Authority Top Stories