Louisville-Cincinnati Preview: Cards Shoot For Elusive Signature Victory

Andy Lyons

LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (22-4, 11-2) AT CINCINNATI BEARCATS (24-3, 13-1)

Game Time: Noon

Location: Fifth Third Arena: Cincinnati, Ohio

Television: CBS

Announcers: Kevin Harlan (play-by-play) and Greg Anthony (analyst)

Favorite: Louisville by 2.5

Officials: Mark Whitehead, John Gaffney and Tony Chiazza

All-Time Series: Louisville leads 55-43

Last Meeting: Cincinnati won 69-66 at the Yum Center on Jan. 30.

Series History:

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Probable Starting Lineups:

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Statistics:

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Relevant Video:

About Cincinnati:

The seventh-ranked Bearcats have rebounded from their lone conference loss with back-to-back wins, including a 77-49 rout of Central Florida on Wednesday that gave them a 1 1/2-game lead on Louisville and a chance to establish some separation Saturday.

Senior guard Sean Kilpatrick leads the American in scoring (20.2 ppg), and forward Justin Jackson leads the league in blocked shots (3.1 bpg).

Cincinnati is off to its best start under former U of L assistant Mick Cronin, who is in his eighth season at UC. The Bearcats, who have won all 17 home games this season, have held 33 of their last 35 opponents below 70 points. Cincinnati is among the national leaders in scoring defense (57.4, fifth nationally), turnover margin (+4.0, 13th), scoring margin (+12.3, 25th), field goal percentage defense (.393, 27th) and blocked shots (5.8, 25th).

Notable:

--This will be the first time Louisville has played an opponent with a better ranking since the 2012 Final Four.

--Cincinnati is Louisville's most-played opponent, with Saturday marking the 99th meeting between the two rivals.

--Cincinnati is a perfect 17-0 at home this season.

--This will be the seventh meeting since 1990 where both teams have been ranked in the AP Top 25.

--Cincinnati Coach Mick Cronin was a member of U of L Coach Rick Pitino's staff with the Cardinals for two seasons (2001-03). UofL was a combined 44-20 in those two years.

--At 13-1, Cincinnati is off to the best conference start in program history.

--Louisville is second in the nation in turnover margin (+6.9) and is 24th in fewest turnovers per game (10.3). U of L has committed 10 or fewer turnovers in 18 of its last 29 games dating back to last year. The Cardinals are generating an average of 21.9 points per game off turnovers.

--Louisville is 21-13 all-time in away games against Cincinnati.

--UC's Sean Kilpatrick is the leading scorer in the AAC at 20.2 ppg.

--The Bearcats are off to their best start since the 2001-02 squad began 26-3 en route to finishing 31-4 overall - the school record for wins in a season.

--Saturday's game is the first matchup of Top 12 teams at Fifth Third Arena since No. 4 Cincinnati defeated No. 9 Marquette 63-62 on Feb. 22, 2002

--The Cardinals have been favored to win every game they've played this season. The last time Louisville was not favored to win a game was at Syracuse on March 2, 2013. U of L won that game.

--Louisville's 22-4 start is tied with the 2004-05 Cardinals for the best start in a season during the Rick Pitino era. The 2012-13 national championship team was 21-5 after 26 games last season, but did not lose again.

--None of us are shaving until the Cards lose again.

--Louisville is the defending Division-I national champion.

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 65, Cincinnati 64

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