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Louisville-Saint Louis Preview: Cards And Billikens Battle For Sweet 16 Spot

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NO. 4 LOUISVILLE CARDINALS (30-5) vs. NO. 5 SAINT LOUIS BILLIKENS (27-6)

Game Time: (Approximately) 2:45 p.m.

Location: Amway Center: Orlando, Fla.

Television: CBS

Announcers: Brian Anderson (play-by-play), Dan Bonner (analyst) and Kristine Leahy (reporter)

Favorite: Louisville by 9.5

All-Time Series: Louisville leads 45-20

Last Meeting: Louisville won 84-66 on Feb. 20, 2005 in Freedom Hall

Series History:

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Statistics:

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Relevant Video:


About Saint Louis:

After overcoming a 16-point second half deficit to take out No. 12 seed NC State in overtime on Thursday, Saint Louis now finds itself just one win away from the first Sweet 16 in program history.

The Billikens had seemed poised to land a top three seed in the big dance after starting their season 25-2, but they dropped three of their last four regular season contests and fell in the Atlantic 10 Tournament quarterfinals to Saint Bonaventure.

This SLU team wins the way most successful Billiken squads of the past have: great defense, offensive efficiency and lots of experience. They're led by Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Jordair Jett (13.8 ppg/4.8 apg), a terrific defender who will be tasked with stopping Russ Smith on Saturday. Senior forward Dwayne Evans (13.9 ppg) and senior big man Rob Loe (10.3 ppg) are the team's other standouts. Loe was tremendous in the win over NC State, scoring 24 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.

The scariest thing about a postseason date with Saint Louis is their experience. Jim Crews has four seniors who average double figures, and each one of them has experienced the pain of losing in the round of 32 the past two seasons. Louisville will get their best shot.

Notable:

--Louisville is making its 40th NCAA Tournament appearance in 2014. The Cardinals have reached the NCAA Tournament 31 of the last 38 years (eight straight, 11 of the last 12, 13 of the last 16 years, 19 of last 23). The Cards have reached the Sweet 16 on 19 occasions and have advanced to the Elite Eight four of the last six seasons. Louisville is sixth in tournament victories (71) and is fifth in NCAA Tournament appearances (40). U of L has a 71-40 overall record in the big dance, and has reached the Final Four 10 times.

--Saint Louis has never advanced to the Sweet 16.

--This is the ninth time the Cardinals have entered the NCAA Tournament as a No. 4 seed. (also: 1981, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2003, 2005, 2011, 2012). U of L advanced to the NCAA Final Four from a No. 4 seed in both 2005 and 2012. Louisville has a 15-8 record as a No. 4 seed since the NCAA began seeding teams in 1979.

--Saint Louis is one of the few teams in the country that starts five seniors, four of those players -- including Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Jordair Jett -- average at least 10.0 ppg.

--Russ Smith needs 11 points to pass Milt Wagner and become Louisville's all-time leading scorer in NCAA Tournament play. He also needs 12 made free-throws to pass LaBradford Smith and become Louisville's all-time leader in that category as well.

--Louisville is 48-8 in NCAA Tournament games where they are the better seed.

--Saint Louis is second in the country in 3-point field goal percentage defense (.287). The Billikens also rank 17th nationally in scoring defense, yielding just 61.8 points per game.

--Louisville is 5-1 all-time in NCAA Tournament play against No. 5 seeds.

--Louisville leads the nation in turnover margin (+7.0) and ranks second nationally in steals (10.1 per game).

--Saint Louis is 0-3 all-time against Louisville on neutral courts.

-Louisville is favored in tonight's game for a program-record 47th straight time. The Cards have not been an underdog since playing at Syracuse on March 2, 2013. All told, U of L has been the favorite in 70 of their last 71 games.

--The Cardinals are 13-0 in their adidas sleeved jerseys.

--Since March, 2012, Louisville owns an overall record of 23-1 in postseason play.

--Louisville's 30-5 record is the same one its 2012-13 national championship team had through 35 games.

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

Ken Pomeroy Prediction: Louisville 72, Saint Louis 63