Notre Dame-Louisville Preview

The Associated Press

The past three matchups and four of the last five between Louisville and Notre Dame have all needed at least one overtime.

These Big East rivals sound like they are expecting that trend to continue Saturday.

The 11th-ranked Cardinals have won seven in a row at home against the Fighting Irish, who will be making their first visit to the KFC Yum! Center.

Louisville (13-2, 1-1) and Notre Dame (9-6, 1-1) split two 2010-11 meetings that went to overtime after the teams went two overtimes in their lone meeting the previous season. One of their 2008-09 matchups also lasted past regulation.

"All I know is that every time we play Louisville, it seems to go to overtime," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said.

The Fighting Irish won 89-79 at home Feb. 9 before the Cardinals rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit for an 83-77 win in the Big East tournament semifinals.

"I think that we have a lot of difficulty with their motion and their shooting abilities and you could say it's vice versa too," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "They've had trouble with our shooting abilities. So they've always been great games, last year two overtime games."

Notre Dame has lost seven straight visits to Louisville and has dropped 16 consecutive games in the Bluegrass State against either the Cardinals or Kentucky. The Irish are hoping their luck will change in their first game at the KFC Yum! Center.

"We have not been in that yet but we'll go there in a nationally televised game against Louisville, who play so well there at home and we'll have to deal with their full-court pressure," Brey said.

Louisville is among the Big East leaders in forcing 17.4 turnovers per game. The Cardinals overcame 19 of their own against St. John's in a 73-58 road win Tuesday, bouncing back after their first two losses of the season.

The Red Storm shot 28.1 percent against a Cardinals defense that leads the Big East in limiting opponents to 35.9 percent.

Pitino, however, insists that his club's defense is a problem, and wants to see improvement in other areas.

"I think ball containment is a problem, I think blocking out is a problem, I think we give up too many second shots," Pitino said. "I think ball pressure is a little bit of a problem."

Louisville's 43.1 shooting percentage is the Big East's third-worst mark, but the coach said he is not concerned with the offense. Russ Smith has been a bright spot the last six games, averaging 20.0 points.

Notre Dame commits a Big East-low 9.9 turnovers per game, but had 13 and shot 33.3 percent in Wednesday's 71-55 loss at Cincinnati.

"Tonight was a great learning experience because we'll play against a similar type of team on Saturday at Louisville," Brey said. "They'll pressure us like Cincinnati did tonight."

Pitino does not believe this will be an easy matchup even though the Irish have one returning starter from last season in Scott Martin, with Tim Abromaitis out for the season with a torn ACL.

"Notre Dame can beat anybody on a given night," Pitino said. "If Notre Dame's shooting the ball well, they'll beat anybody."