The Cardinals have won four of their last five games heading into Saturday's game at DePaul, including a heart-stopping 91-89 double overtime victory over Notre Dame Wednesday night.
"We had to take off [Thursday] because we were mentally exhausted," Rick Pitino said.
With only five regular season games left, Louisville can ill-afford a misstep against the Blue Demons. DePaul has lost their last seven games and has won only one league game this season – a one-point victory over Marquette. DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright was fired midseason, replaced by interim coach Tracy Webster.
"They're playing extremely hard," Pitino said. "They've had some tremendous runs. They were up 17 against Syracuse and 17 against Rutgers. In terms of talent, they have the talent to compete against any team in the Big East."
Will Walker leads the Blue Demons in scoring at 16.7 points per game, while 6'9 forward Mac Koshwal averages 14.7 points and 9.9 boards.
"I think they've got great scorers," Pitino said. "Koshwal is a great player and Walker is one of the premier scorers in the league."
Boasting a 17-9 overall record, Louisville finds itself in position to earn a double-bye in next month's Big East Tournament, which are given to the league's top four teams. The Cardinals, 8-5 in Big East play, are currently fifth in the league standings.
With just two home games remaining, Pitino believes UofL must win three of five to finish the season to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. With road games at DePaul, UConn and Marquette remaining, today's game in Chicago represents the Cardinals best opportunity for a road win.
"We've got to win three out of five games. That's our focus," said Pitino. "It was 9 out of 11. And it's become possible now that the number has decreased to three out of five. I think we're playing good sound basketball, exciting basketball."
GAME FACTS - Louisville (17-9, 8-5) vs. DePaul (8-17, 1-12)
Date: Saturday, Feb. 20
Time: 2:00 p.m. ET
Site: Allstate Arena (18,500), Rosemont, Illinois
TV: ESPNU will televise the game with Justin Kucher (play-by-play) and Dickey Simpkins (analyst)
Radio: WKRD (790 AM, 101.7 FM) with Paul Rogers (play-by-play) and Bob Valvano (analyst)
SIRIUS: SIRIUS Satellite Radio Ch. 122 (XM Channel 143)
Officials:Ed Corbett, Clarence Armstrong, Wally Rutecki
Next U of L Game: Feb. 23 vs. Georgetown, 7:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)