Connecticut vs Louisville

Time: 09:00 P.M. EST

Paced by star Kemba Walker, Connecticut has beaten two of the top four seeds to reach the finals of the Big East tournament. A victory over another of the league's best teams would secure the Huskies a place in tournament history.

The ninth-seeded and No. 21 Huskies look to match a tournament record with their seventh title while trying to avoid a fifth consecutive loss to third seed and No. 14 Louisville Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.

Connecticut (25-9) had lost seven of its final 11 regular-season games before rolling to easy victories over DePaul and No. 22 Georgetown to open the Big East tournament.

While those wins helped instill some confidence, the Huskies proved they still might be one of the nation's elite teams after Walker sank a last-second shot for a 76-74 win over No. 1 seed Pittsburgh on Thursday. Walker then scored 33 points and pulled down 12 rebounds in a 76-71 overtime victory over fourth-seed Syracuse on Friday.

Now, UConn will try to avenge a pair of regular-season losses to Louisville (24-8) by winning five games in five days to equal Georgetown for the most titles in tournament history. The Huskies have not won the event since 2004.

"It's tough, but we're ready for the challenge," said Walker, a Bronx native who has averaged 27.8 points in the tournament. "We're mentally tough and we're just going to stay together."

With Walker leading the way, anything seems possible for the Huskies. He added six steals and five assists in another gutsy effort Friday.

"Someone must have questioned if he is best player," UConn coach Jim Calhoun said. "I think he is the most valuable player on any college team in America."

Walker, who totaled 36 points against the Cardinals this season, was held to 16 in a 71-58 loss at Louisville on Feb. 18.

However, after 6-foot-9 Alex Oriakhi posted 15 points with 11 rebounds and guard Jeremy Lamb added 11 points in the semifinal, the Cardinals know they must be aware of more than Walker.

Louisville needed double-overtime to win 79-78 at UConn on Jan. 29.

"We've played them twice, we know them very well, we know the Connecticut team very well," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "I think the mistake we've made is trying to stop one key guy and somebody else beats you."

While Walker and UConn have been the story of this tournament, Louisville has posted a pair of impressive victories to put itself in position for a second title in three years.

After holding Marquette to 29.8 percent shooting in an 81-56 quarterfinal win Thursday, the Cardinals overcame a 16-point deficit to beat No. 4 Notre Dame 83-77 in overtime Friday, their fourth consecutive win against ranked opponents.

While neither team shot great, the Cardinals stepped up their pressure defense to outscore the Irish 40-26 in the second half and 11-5 in the extra session.

"Coach Pitino told us to stay aggressive, play smart and play the way we play," said guard Peyton Siva, who had 15 points and seven assists before fouling out. "He had faith in us and when I fouled out I had to have faith in my teammates and our bench."

Leading scorer Preston Knowles scored 20 points. The senior guard has averaged 17.5 points the last four games, but 8.8 in six career games versus UConn.

Siva had 19 points and seven assists in the double-overtime victory over the Huskies.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

Game Forecast
0%Chance of Winning0%
0-0vs Top 250-0
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Big East
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Seton Hall10-821-1244
St. Johns7-1114-19140
Conference USA
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
Middle Tenn.17-131-535
La. Tech14-423-10117
Old Dominion12-619-12136
Western Ky.9-915-17226
UT-San Antonio8-1014-19264
So. Miss6-129-22331
North Texas2-168-22339

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Key Players
37.6 Min. Per Game 30.2 Preston<br>Knowles
23.7 Pts. Per Game 14.7
4.3 Ast. Per Game 3.2
5.4 Reb. Per Game 4.0
43.2 Field Goal % 37.9
34.4 Three Point % 38.6
80.5 Free Throw % 80.8
Other Games
CLEM 87 Final
NC 92
Kentucky 72 Final
Alabama 58
Michigan 61 Final
Ohio St 68
VT 63 Final
RICH 58 Final
Temple 54
VANDY 66 Final
Florida 77
Texas 73 Final
Kansas 85
Wash 77 Final
Arizona 75
SDSU 72 Final
BYU 54
Boise St 69 Final
Utah St 77