All signs point to Elite 8 rematch in ’12-’13

expect more Russ in the O’Dome this fall (image via Orlando Sentinel)

On the heels of a Final Four run, there’s no room for complacency in Louisville’s daunting out-of-conference schedule for the upcoming season. Games away from home slated against Memphis, Western Kentucky, College of Charleston, and a field including Duke and Missouri at the Battle for Atlantis will presumably complement the UK game at home (that is, unless that series has grown too “traditional” to suit Coach Cal).

The only remaining uncertainty is Louisville’s pairing in the Big East-SEC Challenge. But logic and recent speculation indicate that a rematch with Billy Donovan’s Gators in Gainesville is a near certainty.

  • And last week, Harry Fodder at the official UF sports outlet Gatorzone.com wrote “don’t bet against Louisville” as Florida’s Big East opponent.

Of course these aren’t groundbreaking revelations. ESPN’s marketing stiffs surely see the narrative value of an Elite Eight rematch of conference heavyweights and coaching personalities promised by Florida-Louisville. The clichés story lines literally write themselves, and those dudes would probably love the opportunity to take off early and grab 18 holes in Cromwell or whatever. Beyond that, there just aren’t many evenly-matched alternatives for either team, with UK, Vandy and Syracuse off the table.

So you can probably pencil in Louisville at Florida to round out the Cardinals’ 2012-2013 out-of-conference schedule. The game will be one of several early tests against elite competition in loud road environments. What sets this game apart is Florida’s hunger for redemption after back-to-back Elite Eight collapses. The combination of motivation, talent and hostile environment would likely make this one of the most difficult games of the regular season for Pitino’s squad.

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