Winners in ten-consecutive games heading into the 2012-2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals put together a run that will be remembered for years to come back home in Kentucky. Riding the emotional wave of success through the first five rounds of the NCAA Tournament that year as well, the Cardinals took a 15-game win streak into the National Title Game against Michigan, a contest they’d win to claim the University’s third title and first since 1986. Hoping to recapture the magic of last season, the 2013-2014 version of the Cardinals brings a five-game streak and loads of confidence into the tournament, even if their No. 4 seeding was a bit insulting.

“Sometimes when people say you fit the eye test, it depends on who’s looking at it,” Rick Pitino said when asked about his feelings regarding the No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region attached to his Cardinals. “If you have a bunch of football ADs looking at it, how would they know what the eye test is? I think the pairings sometimes lack common sense as well. I don’t think they would put somewhere down the road Duke-North Carolina so … the matchups don’t make sense to me. I’m OK with the seeding’s. I’m not OK with the matchups. But the selection committee is very fair, very honorable, very honest people, so I can’t protest too much because they’re doing the best job that they can do. Maybe they’re a bunch of soccer ADs, I don’t know.”

Set to open their 2014 tournament against No. 13 Manhattan, Pitino will now make final preparations for a showdown against an old friend. Jaspers head coach Steve Masiello -- who led Manhattan to 25-7 record and 2014 MAAC Championship this season -- played for Pitino at the University of Kentucky from 1996 to 2000 and served as Louisville assistant from 2005 to 2011, so the familiarity with one another and many of the players will certainly be there come Thursday evening’s second round showdown. Though he is excited about the chance to take down the defending National Champions, the 36-year-old leader echoes Pitino’s words that early match-ups like these aren’t ideal, especially when teams run similar sets and play with almost identical style.

Steve Masiello Manhattan NCAA Manhattan and head coach Steve Masiello hope to take down the defending National Champion Louisville Cardinals in the Second Round of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. The 36-year-old coach serves as Louisville assistant from 2005 to 2011. Getty Images

“Obviously, coach Pitino means the world to me,” Masiello said in a recent interview with WFAN radio in New York City. “To see them come up and then see us come up against them, it takes a little fun out of it. It’s just, that’s not fun for me going against someone that I have to now try to beat, and almost in my mind, think negatively about. It’s hard for me to do that. But, we’re representing the greatest city in the world in the greatest sports event, which is March Madness, in the world. We have a lot of Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island kids, so our makeup is New York kids, and now we have a chance to represent that and kind of have the city on our back. That’s awesome.”

Louisville Cardinal vs. Manhattan Jaspers: DATE, TIME & VIEWING INFO

DATE: Thursday, March 20

TIME: 9:50 p.m., ET

VENUE: Amway Center -- Orlando, Florida