LOUISVILLE — The math doesn't quite add up to A.J. Price. Sure the Connecticut guard understands it might be the second-ranked Huskies' turn at No. 1 in the polls after putting together two easy wins over DePaul and Providence last week while top-ranked Duke lost.
What Price is trying to figure out is how the Huskies can be No. 1 in the country when they're not No. 1 in the Big East. At least, not technically. That honor would go to No. 7 Louisville (17-3, 8-0), who with No. 8 Marquette are the only unbeaten teams in arguably the nation's toughest conference.
The streaking Huskies (20-1, 9-1) will get a chance to pull even with the Cardinals on Monday night in what could be the Big East game of the year, for this week anyway.
"If they win the game, they get some separation," Price said. "On the other hand, if we win the game we can put ourselves in great position coming down the stretch. So that's what it boils down to. It's not about being No. 1."
Right now, being the best team in the conference would be enough.
"If you tell me I'm going to beat Louisville by one point on Monday, I'll take that," UConn Coach Jim Calhoun said.
He might be better off hoping for a laugher. The Cardinals hardly seem fazed when things get tight.
Six of Louisville's nine straight wins have come by 10 points or less, including a 69-63 victory over West Virginia on Saturday, a game the Cardinals led by 20 at halftime before needing a couple of big stops in the final minutes to avoid a major collapse.
"We'd like to take our lessons from a win rather than a loss," said Coach Rick Pitino.
The lessons seem to be: don't panic, stay focused, don't get preoccupied with the number in front of the team's name, worry instead about the number on the scoreboard.
It's that kind of philosophy that's enabled the Cardinals to bounce back from a non-conference schedule in which they lost three times.