Syracuse (28-2, 15-2), the nation's top-ranked team in both the AP and ESPN/ USA Today polls, has won 15 of its last 16 games, including an 85-66 victory over St. John's in their last game on Tuesday. Louisville handed Syracuse its only loss during that 16-game stretch.
Syracuse leads the nation in field goal percentage (.518) and is among the nation's top ten in assists (2nd, 19.5), steals (4th, 10.1), scoring margin (5th, +16.1), blocked shots (7th, 6.8) and scoring offense (6th, 81.8).
One of the Cardinals' three repeat opponents this season, Syracuse is No. 2 in the ratings percentage index (RPI) and is No. 2 in the Sagarin Ratings through games of March 3. Forward Wes Johnson paces the Orange (15.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg), which has seven players averaging over eight points.
Louisville leads the series 11-4 and has won the last five meetings. The Cardinals prevailed 66-60 in the Carrier Dome earlier this season (2/14/10) as Edgar Sosa and Mike Marra led U of L with 12 points each.
Syracuse Ninth No. 1 for Cards
Syracuse will be the ninth top-ranked team in the Associated Press poll that Louisville has faced during the regular season since the poll began in 1949. The Cardinals have won three of its eight previous games against No. 1 ranked teams, all but one of which were played in Louisville. The Cardinals faced two top-ranked teams last season, beating Pittsburgh 69-63 on Jan. 17, 2009; and falling 51-68 to Connecticut on Feb. 2, 2009. U of L is 2-4 against No. 1 teams in Freedom Hall. Other victories over an AP No. 1 team was a 73-65 win over Florida on Dec. 13, 2003 in Freedom Hall; and the No. 18 Cardinals beat Seton Hall 73-67 at the Armory in Louisville on March 2, 1953. U of L also beat a No. 1 team in the ESPN/USA Today poll when the Cardinals beat Kentucky 65-56 in Lexington, Ky. on Dec. 27, 2003. Kentucky was No. 2 in the Associated Press poll at the time.
Freedom Hall Painted Red on March 6
U of L fans are encouraged to wear red for the Cardinals' March 6 home finale against Syracuse in an effort to "Red Out" Freedom Hall for the ESPN televised event. The game will be Senior Day for four Cardinal seniors and will be the final home game for the Cardinals in 54 years in Freedom Hall. U of L will move to a new 22,000-seat arena in downtown Louisville next season. Members of the Cardinals' 1980 and 1986 NCAA Championship teams and all former U of L All-Americas will be honored at halftime of the game. Tshirts for the "Red Out" event will be offered at the Cardinal Store in Freedom Hall; online at www.UofLsports.com; and other participating retaliers throughout the Louisville area.
Senior Day for Cards on Saturday
It will be Senior Day for the Cardinals when Louisville closes its season against Syracuse, with a pregame ceremony honoring those players participating in their final home game in Freedom Hall. Cardinal fans should be in their seats by 1:45 p.m. for the video presentation and live ceremony for the seniors. U of L's current senior class — Chris Brickley, Reginald Delk, Jerry Smith, Edgar Sosa — have won 101 games over the last four years (101-35 record, .742). Delk has played two seasons at U of L after transferring from Mississippi State and Brickley has played just his senior year after also transferring. Louisville has won its last eight straight Senior Day games.
Fans Encouraged to Arrive Early for Game
Doors to Freedom Hall will open at 11:30 prior to the University of Louisville's men's basketball game on March 6 against Syracuse. There are an abundance of events at the Kentucky Exposition Center on Saturday and fans are encouraged to arrive early. Tipoff is set for 2:05 p.m.
Members of the University of Louisville's 1980 and 1986 NCAA Championship teams, along with additional Cardinal players who earned All-American honors, will be present during an autograph session. Autographs will begin at noon and will end at 1:30 p.m. in the ULA Room in Freedom Hall, located in the front corner on the second level of the arena. Only one item per person will be autographed. The autograph session will end promptly at 1:30 p.m. regardless of the length of the line so the players can participate in other facets of the game.
The Cardinals' senior day ceremony will start about 20 minutes prior to tipoff. Four student managers and four players who are finishing their careers will be honored.
For season ticket holders who regularly access the ULA Room, a coat check will be available, however concessions may only be available at halftime.
Immediately after the game, many of the former players in attendance will be on the court to address the Freedom Hall crowd.
The 1986 Championship team will also be available to sign autographs from 7:15-9 p.m. Saturday at Champions restaurant, located in the Louisville Marriott Downtown.
Home Sweet Home
Louisville owns a 681-141 record in its 54th season in Freedom Hall (.829 winning percentage), the Cards' home since 1956. U of L was 16-2 at home last season, averaging 19,397 fans (last year: 19,481, fifth in the nation). U of L has ranked among the top five in the nation for the last 28 consecutive years. Freedom Hall has been the site of six NCAA Final Fours, four additional NCAA events and 10 league tournaments. U of L plays 19 home games this season, including 11 of its first 13 games. The Cardinals have been sold out every game during Coach Rick Pitino's tenure at Louisville and there is a waiting list of over 2,000 for season tickets. The new downtown arena the Cardinals will enter next year increases seating capacity to 22,000 and more opportunities for fans.
NOTE: U of L fans are encouraged to arrive early (doors open at 11:30 a.m.) and wear red in an effort to "Red Out" Freedom Hall for the ESPN televised event. T-Shirts for the "Red Out" event will be offered at the Cardinal Store in Freedom Hall; online at www.UofLsports.com; and other participating retailers throughout the Louisville area. Click here for more information.
GAME FACTS - Louisville (19-11, 10-7) vs. Syracuse (28-2, 15-2)
Date: Saturday, March 6
Time: 2:05 p.m. ET
TV: ESPN will televise the game with Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Fran Fraschilla (analyst) and Holly Rowe (reporter)
Radio: WHAS (840 AM) with Paul Rogers (play-by-play) and Doug Ormay (analyst)
SIRIUS: SIRIUS Satellite Radio Ch. 123 (XM Channel 144)
Next U of L Game: BIG EAST Championship second round, opponent TBA, March 10, Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y.