Hot off a run to the Final Four in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, the Louisville Cardinals have a challenging out-of-conference schedule in 2012-13.
As if playing in the Big East isn’t difficult enough, Rick Pitino’s Cardinals are thinking more than just a conference title this year.
The biggest out-of-conference game on the schedule comes Dec. 29 against the Kentucky Wildcats on home court. The Battle for the Bluegrass is always a yearly intense competition as both schools battle for supremacy of the State of Kentucky. This year adds an even more exciting storyline as both schools are expected to be near the top of the country’s rankings. The game has a great chance of determining who will be the nation’s number one team entering the New Year. Not to mention the subplot of Pitino’s coaching history at Kentucky and the fun that always provides.
Potential first round picks Nerlens Noel of the Wildcats and Gorgui Dieng of the Cardinals will receive a lot of attention heading into the showdown. With Noel listed at 6’11”, 225lbs and Dieng at 6’10” and 230lbs. How the centers match-up against each other will be on the mind of NBA scouts.
Louisville faces another team expected to be ranked on Dec. 15 when they travel to play the Memphis Tigers. It could be the second time in less than a month that the team faces the Tigers. Both teams could see each other in the finals of the Battle-4-Atlantis Tournament on Nov 24.
The tournament will be a good test for the Cardinals, as should they defeat the Northern Iowa Panthers in round one, they’ll have the Stanford Cardinals or the Missouri Tigers in the second round. If they advance to the finals, Louisville could have Memphis or the Duke Blue Devils waiting for them. The tournament will give fans an early indication as to where this Cardinals team is headed in the 2012-13 season.
The remaining schedule has eight games that if the Cardinals lost, would have to be considered upsets. Games against the Illinois State Redbirds on Dec. 1, the Manhattan Jaspers on Nov. 11 and the Florida International Golden Panthers on Dec. 19, are all opponents the Cardinals can’t take lightly but games they should win.
Playing in the Big East will provide a significant challenge on its own, so losing to schools that the Cardinals are considered better than, is not an option for a team hoping for a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Not to mention a National Championship.