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Friah reads

The noon tip obviously isn't ideal, but it is cool waking up at 7:30 and knowing you have a Cards game to watch in four and-a-half hours.

Less cool: having the "s" button on your keyboard totally messed up. Hope I don't have to make anything plural in this post.

Rick Pitino was obviously not impressed with "Debunking the Conference Tournament Myth."

Providence wants to press almost as much as the Cards do, but Davis is wary of that strategy creating too fast a pace.

"It's not a good matchup for us, quite honestly," he said. "And not just because they're arguably the best team in the country. I think when you play a team -- they've been resting and we're playing back-to-back days -- you don't necessarily want a team that presses and runs the whole time."

While the Cards attempt to run away from their 1-3 tournament record at Madison Square Garden, Pitino doesn't believe success or failure in the league tournament will affect their confidence going into the NCAA Tournament.

"It didn't hurt us last year; we went to the Elite Eight," Pitino said. "We want to win another championship. But we just spent three months to win a championship, we're not going to beat ourselves up over three days."

Rick Bozich pens a solid columnn on the relative underappreciation of Rick Pitino.

The coaches who picked the top coach in the Big East this season honored Jay Wright. His Villanova team was predicted to finish fifth. The Wildcats shocked the world by overtaking an injured Marquette team in the final week to finish fourth.

That's an overachievement of one game. Using my ruler, that's the same overachievement that Pitino made by winning the Big East regular-season title with a team picked to finish second.


Those guys can keep their hardware. Pitino has something else he enjoys talking about more, a snapshot from the Cardinals' locker-room celebration after they won the Big East title at West Virginia last Saturday.

The picture shows a raucous locker room celebration by the players and coaches. But look closely at the right side of the photo. You'll see Pitino smiling as wildly as he has smiled since he came to Louisville in 2001, his right arm cocked with his fingers aligned in a celebratory "L."

It's not exactly a secret that this is more than likely a win and you're in, lose and you're out NCAA Tournament game for Providence. Effort level shouldn't be an issue for the Friars, but defensive efficiency probably still will.

Providence ended the regular season last in the Big East in scoring defense (76.8 points per game), 14th in field goal percentage defense (44.8 percent) and 13th in three-point field goal percentage defense (34.6). They were much worse in defending the three against the Blue Demons, who shot 41.9 percent (13 of 31).

Davis came to the defense of his defense quickly.

"When you're trying to battle against top-10 teams in the country each and every night like you do in the Big East, you can't necessarily just go and try to shut down everything," Davis said. "You've just got to go and pick your poison, so to speak. In certain games, they've just been bigger and stronger than us inside so we've had to give more help inside and some teams have been able to take advantage of that. When we've pushed them out to the perimeter, they've taken us to the basket.

"I don't feel the criticism this team has gotten on the defensive end is just, because when you look at us, we've been able to take care of business. Every team picked behind us, we've won every game, and the teams picked ahead of us, we've got a couple of those. We beat Pittsburgh and Syracuse."

The Cards currently sit as 11-point favorites.

Your key game stats:

Louisville Key Team Stats Providence
74.1 Points scored 79.2
61.9 Points allowed 76.8
.450 FG% own .457
.395 FG% opposition .448
.362 3PT% own .327
.310 3PT% opposition .347
382 Offensive Rebounds 420
767 Defensive Rebounds 747
1226 Total Rebounds 1275
1.2 Assist/Turnover Ratio 1.1
17.4 Fouls Per Game 16.4


And notes!