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Phoenix, Ariz.- At a press conference this morning, the Arizona Sports & Tourism Authority (AZSTA) and Global Spectrum in collaboration with Northwest Sports & Entertainment Inc. announced the first ever basketball games to be held at the University of Phoenix Stadium. The event will be a double header and will feature four teams who won at least 20 contests and played in a postseason tournament during the 2007-2008 season. The first matchup features the University of Louisville Cardinals facing the Golden Gophers from the University of Minnesota. Game two pits the Brigham Young University Cougars against the Arizona State University Sun Devils.
AZSTA President/CEO Ted Ferris along with John Hines, Director of Northwest Sports, introduced the event at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Arizona State Head Coach Herb Sendek and Brigham Young's Head Coach Dave Rose, along with representatives from each school's athletic departments were also on hand to discuss their participation.
Taking the court in this first basketball event held at the home of the Arizona Cardinals will be another team known as the Cardinals, the University of Louisville. They will take on the Golden Gophers of Minnesota in a game that will pair two championship coaches and former colleagues against one another. Both Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith led the University of Kentucky to National Championships in the 1990's and are looking to have the same success with their current teams. This Stadium game will mark the first time Smith and Pitino will go head to head since Tubby Smith left Kentucky for Minnesota in 2007.
Big East power Louisville earned a three seed in the East Regional of the 2008 Men's NCAA Tournament. Entering tomorrow's NCAA action, the Cardinals have complied and impressive 27-8 record including a crushing victory over Tennessee last night in Charlotte 79-60. Louisville will now face the Number 1 team in the country, North Carolina, in the Elite Eight for a shot at second Final Four Appearance in the past four years.
The Cardinals have reached the NCAA Tournament each of the last two seasons and five of the last six years, including a magical run to the 2005 Final Four in which they were a #4 seed in the tournament. Leading the Cardinals is legendary coach Rick Pitino who is the only coach to take three different schools to the Final Four. Pitino has reached the Final Four on five different occasions including 1996 when his Kentucky Wildcats won the National Championship. The New York native is 520-190 in 22 seasons as a collegiate head coach.
The 2008 Cardinals should return six players who averaged more than 17 minutes per game, led by Terrance Williams who started every game this season and averaged a team high 35.9 minutes played a game. Williams also leads all returning players with an average of 11.0 points and 4.6 assists per game. The Seattle area native is also the second leading rebounder, pulling down 7.3 per contest.