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(Louisville Courier-Journal) --- University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino said his team will face a University of Kentucky squad on Saturday that's "dramatically improved the last two weeks."

With a deep, experienced roster and the benefit of a home crowd, the No. 4 Cardinals (11-1) are considered significant favorites in Saturday's 4 p.m. game at the KFC Yum! Center, but Pitino said the Wildcats (8-3) will be a stiff test in the staunchest of rivalry games.

"I think their passing has improved, their defense has improved, heir offensive halfcourt execution," Pitino said of UK, the defending national champ which is on a four-game winning streak.

"If you look at their statistics, they are every bit as strong as last year, although they're not as good as last year right now because they don't have a (Darius) Miller, a (Terrence) Jones, a (Doron) Lamb. The veterans they do have are getting engrained in the system like their freshmen are. This is a team that's formidable at every position, and come February, they're going to be a very difficult ballclub to play against."

Louisville is a very difficult team to face right now - outscoring teams by an averaged of 22.6 and leading in NCAA Division I in turnover margin (plus-8.6) - and the Cards figure to get only better with the return of one of their top players Saturday. U of L center Gorgui Dieng will be back in the starting lineup after missing seven games with a broken left wrist. The first game Dieng missed - against current No. 1 Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game - is the only time the Cards have lost.

CBS will carry the battle of the Bluegrass State with live coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m.