Cards ready for a battle in the Bahamas

Rick Pitino

The University of Louisville men's basketball team isn't taking a break for the holiday. The Cardinals will celebrate Thanksgiving in the Bahamas, playing Northern Iowa in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

The second-ranked University of Louisville men's basketball team is celebrating Thanksgiving in Nassau, Bahamas.

The Cardinals are hoping for three victories but it won't be easy in a tough eight-team Battle 4 Atlantis starting tonight with a game against Northern Iowa.

"This will be an exciting tournament," U of L coach Rick Pitino said. "There are no weak teams in the field. The field consists of nothing but teams to win their conference or top of the leaderboard.

"It's one of the best fields I have ever seen for (an early season) tournament."

Northern Iowa is 2-0 on the season and the winner will take on the Missouri-Stanford in Friday's semifinal game. Memphis plays Virginia Commonwealth and Duke plays Minnesota in the other first-round games.

The eight teams in the event have a combined two losses.

"It's going to be a tough tournament," sophomore Wayne Blackshear said. "There are a lot of top teams in there. We are just going to rely on our defense to try and push it out all three games and hopefully we'll come away with all wins."

Added senior guard Peyton Siva: "We look forward to it. It will be a great time to go play against those teams. There are a lot of good teams down there."

Pitino said he wants his team to continue to play stellar defense. U of L is holding opponents to 48 points a game and 34.8 percent from the field.

Northern Iowa shoots 51.5 percent from the field and averages 86.3 points per game. The Panthers allow 59.3 points.

It's the second time in two years the Cardinals are playing in the Bahamas. U of L played several scrimmage games the summer before last season.

"Everybody is going to look at it (the trip) the same way, it's a business trip for everybody," Pitino said. "Everybody is there just be playing basketball.

"Fans will have a good time, but players and coaches will concentrate on their job."

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