The University of Louisville released its basketball schedule Wednesday afternoon for the 2012-13 season.
Louisville will have two scrimmages, against Pikeville and Bellarmine in the KFC Yum! Center, before starting its regular season against Manhattan on November 11.
Last year we had the second most difficult schedule in the nation and I actually think this year’s is more difficult. It poses multiple challenges throughout the season that we haven't had in a while and we look forward to it. We have an extremely competitive team that loves challenges. We're very excited to not only be traveling to face a terrific field in the Bahamas, but from the first game on we will be tested. We look forward to that challenge.
Senior Peyton Siva and junior Gorgui Dieng will lead the Cardinals as they come into the season as one of the top ranked teams in the country.
Let's look at the five most-anticipated home games for Louisville this coming season:
This will not be the biggest challenge for Louisville. However, it will bring former assistant coach and Rick Pitino's son, Richard Pitino, back to the Yum! Center.
Richard Pitino is in his first year at FIU, after being an assistant at Louisville for three years and the University of Florida for two years. Louisville fans have practically watched Richard grow up, so it will be a nice reunion.
It will also bring back former Louisville power forward Rakeem Buckles, who transferred to FIU after last season. Buckles was plagued by injuries while at Louisville, keeping him from playing much the past two years.
Cardinals fans will be on their feet as Buckles is introduced over the loud speaker.
The Battle of the Bluegrass is one of the most-anticipated college basketball games in the country. This year’s game could be the best game in the history of the rivalry.
John Calipari will have some very talented freshman with Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin and Willie Cauley-Stein. The Wildcats will also feature sharpshooter Kyle Wiltjer, who had a very good season coming off the bench last year.
Nerlens Noel against Gorgui Dieng will be the matchup to watch. The two centers are probably the best shot-blockers in the country. Whichever player wins this battle will give his team the best chance of winning the game.
Louisville lost to Kentucky 69-62 in last year's battle in Rupp Arena. The Cardinals also went on to lose against Kentucky in the Final Four in New Orleans last March.
Last year the Orange beat Louisville 52-51 in the Yum! Center. U of L later lost at Syracuse 58-49.
This season Syracuse will have a much younger team, but the Orange still have a lot of talent. Jim Boeheim's squad will rely heavily upon senior shooting guard Brandon Triche, who scored 18 points against the Cardinals last season. Syracuse also has two big freshmen in DaJuan Coleman and Jerami Grant.
Coaches Rick Pitino and Jim Boeheim will have their teams ready for this game. Both of them know how important the game is for their Big East and national rankings.
It is always exciting when coach Buzz Williams' Golden Eagles play the Louisville Cardinals.
Last year Louisville got outplayed in the regular season game at Marquette, losing 74-63. U of L later dominated the Golden Eagles in the Big East tournament winning 84-71.
This year Marquette will be without Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom, but the Golden Eagles have some very good freshmen as well as a talented Arizona State transfer in Trent Locket.
Rick Pitino will use his depth to wear down Marquette, which is a much younger and inexperienced team.
This game will bring a lot of sadness and excitement as it will be the last game of the regular season. Fans will get the opportunity to say goodbye to Peyton Siva, Mike Marra, Stephen Van Treece and any other players that may be leaving early for the NBA.
Notre Dame will have five seniors, including sixth-year senior guard Scott Martin. Irish center Jack Cooley will battle underneath against Gorgui Dieng. Last season Cooley had 18 points and 10 rebounds in Notre Dame's overtime victory at the Yum Center!. Louisville will have a lot more depth behind Dieng this season, with Stephen Van Treece, Montrezl Harrell and Zach Price.
If the Cardinals can pull out the victory in this game, it will give them plenty of confidence heading into the Big East Championship.