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--Spread check: Louisville by 5.

--Despite a particularly poor stretch of luck, Louisville has kept winning.

"I’ve never quite seen anything like this," Pitino said after a 25-point win over St. John’s earlier this week. "I’ve been coaching a long time. We’ve had injuries, but I’ve never seen anything as bad as this. Guys can’t practice because a back is hurt. Guys have broken fingers. We’ve had more concussions than a football team. Now we have cramping. It’s just amazing our resilience and how well they played through all of that. That’s a great sign for the guys."

It’s also not a bad sign for a team that’s supposed to be rebuilding. When sophomore big man Samardo Samuels unexpectedly left for the pros (and did not get drafted) after last season, the Cardinals were stripped of their only all-Big East level player. In the preseason coaches’ poll Louisville was picked to finish eighth, and Pitino clearly knows he does not have a powerhouse squad on his hands. But that’s not slowing down his team.

--It's another must-win game for the Cards, says C.L. Brown.

--Preston Knowles and Marshon Brooks are two of the more unheralded stars in the Big East.

--Friar Basketball says Vincent Council is the player Cardinal fans should be keeping an eye on this evening.

The one to watch: Vincent Council.  When the Friars are moving the ball as they did in the first half against South Florida they can be tough to stop.  After dishing out only four assists in his previous two games Council bounced back with eights dimes at South Florida, but continues to struggle with his shot.

No player is more critical to this team's offense.  PC relies on Council to make plays, but also needs him to put the ball in the basket.  He's struggled to do so, shooting 7-37 in his last three games.

--PC game notes.

--Capsule preview:

LOUISVILLE (15-3, 4-1): Playing without a single returning starter from a year ago, the Cardinals are rolling again. Only losses have come at home to Drexel and Kentucky and at Villanova…Coming off an impressive 88-63 throttling of St. John’s where defense forced 25 turnovers…Knowles is on fire with 38 threes in his last nine games, the second-highest nine-game total in school history. He’s averaged 19.8 points over that stretch…The Cards average 10.2 steals, best in the Big East…Rick Pitino coached his 800th game vs. St. John’s. His college record is 587-213 in 25 seasons…Pitino is 6-0 coaching against Providence.

PROVIDENCE (11-8, 0-6): The Friars need a win badly to fight their way into the Big East race. Looking to avoid equaling the 0-7 start by the 2004-05 team…PC has lost nine straight games to Louisville and every game they’ve played since the Cardinals joined the Big East…PC led the Cards at the half last season, 42-37, but was outscored in the second half 55-28…Brooks is second in the Big East in scoring in league games, trailing Kemba Walker 24.2 to 24.5…Brooks is averaging more points than any Friar since Eric Murdock finished with a 25.6 average in 1991…PC’s last win over a ranked team came against No. 19 UConn last Jan. 27.

WHERE: Dunkin’ Donuts Center, 5 p.m. SERIES: Louisville leads, 10-4. LAST MEETING: Louisville won, 92-70, Jan. 6, 2011. RADIO-TV: WEEI (103.7 FM) ESPNU.

--And your AP preview.