Cards begin Madness against Morehead State

The road to Detroit begins in Ohio for the Cardinals. No. 1 Louisville (28-5) opens the NCAA Tournament Friday night in Dayton against 16-seed Morehead State (20-15).

The Cardinals open the tournament as the top overall seed, ranked No. 1 in both major polls – and President Barack Obama's pick to play North Carolina in the national finals. Louisville, Big East regular-season and tournament champions, has won ten straight games and 20 of their last 22.

"I think the Big East gives you great preparation for this type of tournament and environment because you're playing against so many different style of teams," Andre McGee said. "We're just focused on the task at hand – Morehead State."

Louisville should be familiar with their opening round opponent, a team the Cardinals beat 79-41 in November. Morehead State beat Alabama State 58-43 in the play-in game to advance to tonight's first round matchup against Louisville.

"In the (first) Morehead State game we took nine challenged shots in the first half and shot 29 percent," Pitino said. "In the second half we took two challenged shots and shot 67 percent. Even though that was a long time ago it was a true indicator of what we do well. When things don't go well it's due to poor passing and taking challenged shots."

Since their last loss at Notre Dame Feb. 12, Louisville has made significant offensive improvement. The Cardinals shooting percentage from the floor, assists and points per game all have risen in the past few weeks.

"We've just put more of a heavy emphasis on passing," Pitino said. "We just try to stay under six challenged shots per game. Every time we have faltered it's been 11 or 12 challenged shots per game and we've done a good job staying under six."

Though Louisville opens the tournament as a heavy favorite against Morehead State – no 16-seed has ever knocked off a No. 1 seed - the Cardinals understand they'll have to come ready to play against the OVC champs Friday night.

"In this game today anyone can beat anyone," Pitino said. "These teams get here because they have talented basketball players. We realize Morehead is a talented team and that if we don't take care of business it could be the same type of game (as Memphis/Cal-Northridge). If you don't have great respect for every little detail that's how you go home unexpected."

The Cardinals and No. 16 seeded Eagles will tip off at approximately 7:10 p.m. ET.

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