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Big East Game Preview: Louisville vs. Pittsburgh

Rick Pitino Louisville Cardinals

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

How exciting is it to watch a team that was No. 1 a few weeks ago before losing three straight games against a talented team that gets better with every game they play? We will all get a chance to find out when the Louisville Cardinals take on the Pittsburgh Panthers Monday night in the KFC Yum! Center.

It is going to be a battle until the end of the season in the Big East Conference and both Louisville and Pittsburgh have a making a deep run in March.

For Louisville this is a must win. The Cardinals have lost the last three games straight and their schedule isn’t getting any easier. Louisville has struggled finding good shots the past three games and what was a lock-down defense is starting to have a lot of holes.

Coach Rick Pitino said after the 53-51 loss to Georgetown Saturday, “We have to get this win. It’s a must game for us. Because four (in a row), now you’re on the verge of getting a sub-.500 record in the league, and you don’t want to mess with that.”

Pittsburgh on the other hand has won their last four games straight in Big East play, including a 95-55 win over DePaul on Saturday.

Both teams are almost statistical equals, although Louisville has played a much more challenging schedule. They both rely heavily on their senior point guards and aren’t afraid to go deep in their benches. This should be a fast-paced game and will be determined by who can have a better shooting day from the outside.

For Louisville, PG Peyton Siva needs to control the game on both sides of the court. The 6’0” senior did not score a single point in the loss against Georgetown and had limited minutes due to foul trouble. Siva needs to be consistent for Louisville to be successful. He will be matched up against senior Tray Woodall. Siva averages eight points and 4.3 assists per game in his college career against Pittsburgh.

Steven Adams Pittsburgh Panthers

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh will hope freshman Steven Adams can contain the Cardinals’ Gorgui Dieng. Adams only averages 6.8 points a game, but he has been a force on the boards and has given the Panthers a lot of extra opportunities with his offensive rebounds.

It will be a tremendous atmosphere in the Yum! Center, as frustrated Cardinal fans will try their best to give their team a home-court advantage. But will the players respond to their fans, that will be the question throughout the game.

Tip-off for the game will be at 7:00pm (EST) on ESPN.


Follow Jon Hancock on Twitter: @JonKYSportsco.