A Look At The Louisville Cardinals

The Hartford Courant

Next meeting: A two-game home-and-home series, one game at the Cardinals' new riverfront arena in Louisville, one in either Hartford or Storrs.

Last season: UConn was in prime position to make the NCAA Tournament when Louisville came to Gampel Pavilion for Senior Day on Feb. 28. The Huskies had won three in a row – including victories over top-10 teams Villanova and West Virginia – to improve to 17-11. Tied at 76, Jerome Dyson drove in the final minute and had a pass intended for Alex Oriakhi stolen near the basket. Edgar Sosa scored the winning basket soon after, driving past Kemba Walker for a layup with 8.2 seconds left. UConn out-rebounded Louisville by an astounding 50-22 margin but committed 22 turnovers.

The Huskies would go on to lose at Notre Dame, then at South Florida, then in the Big East tournament to St. John's.

Louisville, which had also defeated UConn Feb. 1 at home, lost its next game at Marquette but closed the season – and Freedom Hall for good – with an upset victory over top-ranked Syracuse. That left the Cardinals with 20 victories and, despite losing to Cincinnati in the Big East tournament, assured Louisville of an NCAA Tournament berth. The Cardinals, seeded ninth, lost in the first round to No. 8 California.

Who's gone, who's back: Samardo Samuels led the Cardinals in scoring and rebounding last season as a sophomore but left for the NBA. Sosa, Louisville's second-leading scorer last year, exhausted his eligibility. So, too, did guard Jerry Smith, last season's third-leading scorer. The Cardinals' top two returning players are junior forward Jared Swopshire and senior guard Preston Knowles, both of whom averaged just over seven points last season.

Highly touted shooting guard Wayne Blackshear, from Chicago, leads a three-player recruiting class. The UConn-Louisville rivalry: UConn leads the all-time series, 5-4.

What's at stake: Jim Calhoun-Rick Pitino is always fun. They still have a vibrant rivalry going back to their days fighting for victories and publicity in Boston, with Calhoun at Northeastern and Pitino at Boston University. Nowadays, it's not so testy, but it's still a matchup of two basketball legends.

The teams will face each other twice next season, meaning they'll have a lot to do with each other's rise or fall in the Big East. The teams have split eight meetings since Pitino became Louisville coach.

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