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Mid-day media links

For those of you heading down to Birmingham or already there, a pep rally  has been scheduled for 5 p.m. tomorrow.

A pep rally will be staged for University of Louisville fans supporting the Cardinals in Birmingham tomorrow at 5 p.m. CDT (6 p.m. EDT) in the East Ballroom of the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex.

Fans should enter the East Ballroom off Richard Arrington Boulevard, with recommended parking in the lot on 23rd Street. Doors open at 3 p.m. CDT with a large screen television and a cash bar.

In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, U of L faces Boise State in the second game of the evening doubleheader.

Should the Cardinals advance to the second round, there will be a pep rally at the same location on Sunday at 1 p.m. CDT.

I always look forward to the Sports Illustrated NCAA Tournament cover with the representative from all 65 teams, and I was excited to see our very own Cardinal bird chilling above the "M" this year.

Boise State's student newspaper - The Arbiter - has some good quotes from players about both the WAC title game and the tomorrow's tilt with the Cards.

"We needed to get it done," Thomas said. "I was so tired, it was the third overtime and we came so far, so we just needed to finish."

"It is going to be a dog fight, they're a good team," Thomas said of playing Louisville. "But we got some weapons ... It's the biggest game of my life. It's the NCAA tournament, it don't get any bigger than that."

"[That was] intense," Noonan said. "It was one of the more up-and-down games that I've played in. It was a lot of fun."

"Louisville is a good team with a great coach," Noonan said. "They're deep, athletic and big, but we're going to come out and play; we've got nothing to lose. This game means a lot, there's going to be a lot of great memories and it's going to be a good experience. Hopefully we can play tough and pull one out."

Chip Cosby of the Herald-Leader focuses in on our man Preston.

Another Boise State preview article from a local news station.

The Bronco's are hoping to make their mark on the sports world yet again in another David vs. Goliath match-up.

"We're playing one of the toughest teams in the nation from one of the toughest conferences in the nation," said Reggie Larry, the WAC Tournament MVP.

The team knows it won't be an easy road ahead in the big dance, but throughout the season they've shown they can handle the pressure and have proved naysayers wrong on more than one occasion.

"No one expected us to get through Utah State or get through them (New Mexico State) and I am sure there aren't a lot of people putting us on that next bracket," said BSU head coach Greg Graham.

Don't count BSU out yet, though.  According to Graham and the players, they've got several reasons to believe they can win Friday's game against Louisville.

"It can't be anymore hostile then it was at New Mexico State. There we had 10,000 people against us," said Graham. "Louisville is close. I know a lot of people will drive down, but I am thinking at least half the people should be rooting for us because we're the underdog."

"We're not predicted to win, but that helps us. It's not like, 'oh since we're not predicted to win we're just down.' We weren't predicted to win the WAC and we won and we kept out heads up so we're going to keep our heads up regardless," said Larry.

And finally, Pat Forde takes a look at the best and worst case scenarios for every team in the dance.
Best Case: Louisville's rotation of big men limits Tyler Hansbrough and the Cardinals' zone stops the Tar Heels to win in Charlotte and make the Final Four. Once there, Earl Clark becomes the best player left in the field and Rick Pitino outcoaches Final Four rookie Bill Self in the semifinals. Then the Cards beat Cinderella team Xavier for their first national title in 22 yeras. Kentucky loses by 20 in the first round.

Worst Case: Guards Jerry Smith and Edgar Sosa (a combined 7-for-40 from the floor this month) still can't find the basket. Centers David Padgett and Derrick Caracter get in foul trouble. Cards do what they did in 2003: lose a second-round upset game in Birmingham to a double-digit seed -- then it was Butler, this time Saint Joseph's. Meanwhile, Kentucky somehow sneaks into the Sweet 16.