Louisville has jumped out to a 3-0 league mark in part because of wins over South Florida and St. John's – two teams with a combined 0-6 Big East record. The Cardinals will face their biggest Big East test to date when 14-1 Villanova invades tonight at 7 p.m.
The Cardinals knocked off St. John's 75-68 Saturday afternoon. Down at the half, Louisville pounded the offensive glass for easy putback opportunities and pulled away in the second half behind timely three-pointers from Edgar Sosa and Jared Swopshire.
Villanova is coming off a hard fought 78-76 win over Marquette on Saturday. The Wildcats, who start four guards and forward Antonio Pena, feature a high-powered offense that ranks ninth nationally in points per game at 84.3 per contest. All five starters scored in double-figures against Marquette. Scotty Reynolds lead the Wildcats in scoring at 17.7 points per contest.
"I think our guys are improving," Pitino said. "I think we'll be ready for Villanova even though it's one-day [in between games] because they have the same thing as we do."
Beside a tough loss to Kentucky last week, Louisville is starting to build some momentum heading into the Big East meat grinder. The Cardinals have won seven of their eight games and could use a marquee win over Villanova to propel them into a tough stretch that includes Pittsburgh, Cincinnati and West Virginia.
"They're going to play four guards at times," Pitino said of Villanova. "They're going to play Stokes at the four spot and their very difficult. Jay [Wright] is one of the preimer guys in the country coaching his style. They play every possession hard and don't get beat for loose balls."
Louisville has won the the last three games in the series and owns an 8-6 edge overall against the Wildcats. The Cardinals won both games last season, a 61-60 thriller in Philadelphia and a come from behind 69-55 win in the Big East semifinals in New York.
"We've had great battles with them and this will be another one," Pitino said.
If Louisville wins tonight it would be the program's 1,600th win all-time. The Cardinals are 1599-835 in 94 seasons of play.
Tonight's game is also a 'White Out' promotion. All fans are encouraged to wear white to the game.