LOUISVILLE — At least 16 games on national television, appearances in the Las Vegas Invitational, John Wooden Tradition and the Billy Minardi Classic and a difficult slate in the Big East Conference highlight the 2007-08 University of Louisville men's basketball schedule.
Nineteen of the Cardinals' games — nearly two-thirds of its schedule — will be played against teams that reached post-season competition last season, including 15 NCAA Tournament and four NIT participants (NCAA: BYU, Georgetown twice, Jackson State, Kentucky, Marquette twice, Miami (Ohio), UNLV, New Mexico State, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Villanova, and either North Carolina or Old Dominion; NIT: DePaul, Providence, Syracuse, West Virginia). The Cardinals' last nine games of the regular season are against 2007 post-season tournament participants. All but five of the Cards' 13 non-conference opponents were 2007 NCAA Tournament participants.
"This is probably the most difficult schedule that I have encountered as a basketball coach," said UofL head coach Rick Pitino. "Most of the pre-season rankings have Georgetown, Marquette and us among the top teams, plus Pittsburgh, Connecticut and Providence return most of their players and all of those games are on the road. We will have to be up to the task to get through this challenge."
With four starters returning from last year's team that posted a 24-10 record and reached the second round of the NCAA, the Cardinals will face their first outside competition in an exhibition game against Carleton University on Oct. 29, the first of 19 home games in Freedom Hall. Carleton, who the Cardinals beat 67-66 on a pre-season tour to Canada last year, has won the last five straight CIS national championships, the Canadian equivalent of the NCAA Tournament. Georgetown College, which reached the NAIA National Tournament, will provide the opposition in UofL's second exhibition game two days later on Oct. 31.
UofL will play nine of its first 13 games at home in Freedom Hall, beginning with the first two games of the Las Vegas Invitational in Freedom Hall.
The Cardinals will play Hartford in its season opener on Nov. 17 and Jackson State on Nov. 18 in the first two games of the exempt event.
UofL will make its first national television appearance of the season on Nov. 21 with a televised game at UNLV, which won 30 games a year ago and reached the NCAA Sweet Sixteen (VERSUS is on Insight Communications digital cable channel 549 in Louisville).
The Cardinals will continue its appearance in the Las Vegas Invitational on Nov. 23-24, facing BYU in the third round on Nov. 23 at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The Cardinals will face either North Carolina or Old Dominion in the championship round on Nov. 24.
The Cardinals will play Purdue in the John Wooden Tradition at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. on Dec. 15 in a CBS-televised contest. Florida State will play Butler in the second game of the doubleheader.
UofL will serve as host for the Billy Minardi Classic on Dec. 22 in Freedom Hall, an event named in memory of Pitino's brother-in-law who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. This year's event will feature a single game against New Mexico State, coached by former UofL assistant coach Marvin Menzies.
Another former Cardinal assistant, Kevin Williard, will bring his first Iona squad to Freedom Hall for a Dec. 29 game.
UofL opens the new year and its third season in the Big East Conference against Cincinnati in Freedom Hall on Jan. 1, one of 13 nationally televised league games for the Cardinals. UofL will play at in-state rival Kentucky on Jan. 5 on CBS before embarking on the remainder of the Big East slate.
The Cards' 18-game league schedule includes two games each against Georgetown, Marquette and Rutgers.
Nine of the Cardinals' last 11 regular season games will appear on national television. The Big East Conference Tournament will be staged at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 12-15.
Tipoff times and television arrangements for all games are incomplete.