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Regaining Status

After winning its third consecutive game over a ranked team, Louisville regained its own status as a top 25 squad.

Now, the No. 23 Cardinals hope to avoid a letdown Tuesday night when they try to continue their success against DePaul in a Big East matchup.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Louisville –7.5 point spread favorites (View College Basketball odds) for today’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 72% of bets for this game have been placed on Louisville –7.5 (View College Basketball bet percentages).

The Cardinals (18-6, 8-3) have returned to the rankings for the first time since they were 22nd in mid-December. They used consecutive wins over ranked teams to crack the poll again, winning at then-No. 16 Marquette 71-57 on Feb. 4, and added a 59-51 victory over previously sixth-ranked and Big East leader Georgetown on Saturday.

Those victories validated the progress the Cardinals have made over the last two months after a slow start that had frontcourt players David Padgett and Juan Palacios miss significant time due to injury.

"This is the best win I've ever experienced as a player," Padgett said after beating the Hoyas. "It all starts with defense. We started the game, I think we might have been a little nervous. In the second half we played defense the way we're all capable of.

"This definitely put us in the right direction. But we know there's still a lot of basketball to be played."

Padgett has been a big part of Louisville's return to elite status, scoring 18 points against Georgetown. The 6-foot-11 senior has worked his way back from a knee injury which forced him to miss 10 games, and is averaging 10.6 points, but has not been very effective on the glass with just 4.1 rebounds per game.

He has, however, been the linchpin of Louisville's defense, blocking 21 shots in 14 games to help the Cardinals hold opponents to an average of 59.6 points - second in the Big East to Georgetown's 56.7.

"I think we'd probably have played good defense all year long and I think one of the reasons is that we don't let our opposition get used to one defense," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "I think that's the key with us. We change so often that we can keep them off guard a little bit."

The Cardinals had a strong defensive effort in their last meeting with DePaul (10-13, 5-6), holding the Blue Demons to 19-for-54 shooting (35.2 percent) - 3-for-15 (20.0 percent) from 3-point range - in a 59-50 win at Allstate Arena on Jan. 20, 2007. That was Louisville's third consecutive win over its conference rival and 16th in the last 18 matchups, including an 8-1 record on the road.

DePaul is looking to build on a 69-61 win over last-place South Florida on Saturday. Draelon Burns scored 22 points and Will Walker added a career-high 21 as the Blue Demons snapped a four-game losing streak.

Burns leads DePaul with 17.7 points per game, but he is averaging only 14.0 points and shooting 37.7 percent in six home conference games. The senior guard went only 1-for-8 from the floor and made 3 of 6 free throws to total five points in the last meeting with Louisville.

DePaul has won only one of seven meetings against Top 25 teams, allowing those opponents to average 81.7 points. The lone win was an 84-76 upset of then-No. 17 Villanova on Jan. 8.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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