Get excited folks.
Seventh seeded West Virginia and second seeded Louisville meet tonight for the first time this season, with a spot in the Big East Tournament semifinals on the line.
The Mountaineers set a Big East Tournament record with 17 three-pointers last night in a 92-79 win over Providence. The treys accounted for 51 of WVU'S 92 points.
Frank Young and Alex Ruoff both had identical stat lines of 21 points and five assists, while lefty Darris Nichols had 16 points and eight assists against no turnovers.
As hot as West Virginia was last night is as hot as Louisville has been over the last month. The Cards, winners of six straight and eight of their last ten, went on a tear to earn the conference's number two seed, just a year after nearly missing the tournament completely.
U of L's win streak will be put to the test in a place where they have another, more dubious streak.
The Cards haven't one in the world's most famous arena since joining the Big East last year (0-4), and have lost nine straight in the Garden overall.
"Yeah we've struggled there, but I think we're going to turn it around," Louisville guard Brandon Jenkins said of the team's recent history in New York. "We've developed chemistry and we've proved we can go on the road and play well."
If they do turn it around tonight, it's going to be against a team that Rick Pitino said earlier in the week that he was wary of playing.
"We don't match up with West Virginia well at all," he said. "(Providence) isn't an easier matchup. It's just more suited for our freshmen in terms of strategy. It will be a lot of fun for Jerry, Earl and Derrick to have to play against that. They'll be knocking into each other, falling down."
Many have pointed to these comments as evidence of Pitino simply trying to keep his team hungry and playing with a chip on their shoulders, despite the fact that they are now statistically the second best team in the conference.
"Every day I find something to put a chip on their shoulder," Pitino said Monday "And If I don't have anything, I lie and say, 'Somebody down the street just called you a name.'"
Even if the comments were simply part of a crafty ploy, the challenge the Mountaineers present is very real.
The Cardinals didn't have to scout West Virginia in the regular season because the 'Eeers were one of two teams (Rutgers being the other) that weren't on their conference slate. Even if they had been able to see WVU in person, John Beilein's unorthodox offense is extremely difficult to prepare for, especially when your team consists mostly of freshmen and sophomores.
"I love playing Louisville," Ruoff said last night. "I love playing anybody who doesn't see us play all the time. You have to admit, we're a pretty hard team to prepare for.''
Also boding well for WVU is the fact that they have just prepared for and played a Providence team that is, along with Louisville and Syracuse, one of only three teams in the league that consistenlty plays zone. Until two weeks ago the Mountaineers had not faced a zone at all, and it showed when they tried far too many 3-pointers and missed 32 of them in a 64-61 loss to the Friars.
"It's good that we've seen it, but we still have to attack it like we did [Wednesday],'' Young said. "If we just settle for 3s we can't win. That's not the way to attack a zone. You have to really attack, not just shoot over it.''
If the treys start going in early then Louisville has got to make sure that they don't turn this into a shooting contest, because it's a contest they can't win. The Cards must respond by doing what they do well which is generating offense from in the lane with Padgett, Caracter and Williams.
All right boys and girls the second season starts tonight. Let's do this.