Rick Pitinoâ€™s Louisville Cardinals (8- 4 Big East, 18- 8 overall) took it to the Pittsburgh Panthers (10- 2 Big East, 22- 4 overall) on February 12, beating them handily 66- 53. The Panthers are in first place in the Big East and ranked fifth nationally. It was the first time that the Cardinals beat a nationally ranked club this season after four tries.The next big test for unranked Louisville will be tonight when the Cards travel to play the 13th ranked Marquette Golden Eagles (8- 4 Big East, 21- 6 overall). The Cardinals and the Golden Eagles have identical conference records and are two games in back of Pittsburgh. It was almost exactly a month ago that Louisville lost to Marquette 74- 65.
If Louisville can beat Marquette, theyâ€™ll have a good chance of making it into the tournament. The Cards should be able to run the table in their final four games, giving them a 12- 4 conference record.
The good news for the Cardinals is that they are loaded with young talent, which includes sophomore forward Terrence Williams (12.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.6 APG), freshman guard Edgar Sosa (10.7 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.8 APG) and junior swingman David Padgett (9.7 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 1.5 APG). They have begun to gel as a team. Additionally, Pitino has a deep bench, including freshman swingman Earl Clark (5.0 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 0.4 APG) and senior guard Brandon Jenkins (5.0 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 1.8 APG).
Marquetteâ€™s sophomore guards have been their nucleus. Dominic James (15.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.7 APG), Jerel McNeal (14.5 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.9 APG) and Wesley Matthews (12.0 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 2.1 APG) have been workhorses averaging 32 minutes per game.
Marquette has lost their last two games, both on the road, but are now back home where theyâ€™ve won four in a row. Louisville comes into tonightâ€™s contest as 3-point underdogs. Tonightâ€™s game can make or break the Cardinalsâ€™ chances to by playing in March Madness.