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Louisville wearing infrared uniforms at Final 4

Published: Saturday, March 31 2012 4:52 p.m. MDT

Rapper Jay-Z signs autographs before the start of an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans.  (David J. Phillip, Associated Press) Rapper Jay-Z signs autographs before the start of an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans. (David J. Phillip, Associated Press)

NEW ORLEANS — Break out the sunglasses, Louisville is sporting its infrared uniforms for the Final Four.

The Cardinals are 5-0 in their orange, err, "red" uniforms, and they're not about to mess with that success with a trip to the NCAA title game on the line. The fourth-seeded Cardinals (30-9) play top-seeded Kentucky (36-2) on Saturday night.

"We're in the Final Four. If anybody has a problem with (the uniforms), they can just chalk that up," Louisville point guard Peyton Siva said. "We're not going to change anything."

Kentucky coach John Calipari said this week that the uniforms had been outlawed and they wanted to wear blue.

"As a matter of fact the higher seed has a choice of color, and we pick blue," Calipari joked.

As the higher seed, the Wildcats have to wear home whites.

Rapper Jay-Z signs autographs before the start of an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans.  (David J. Phillip, Associated Press) Rapper Jay-Z signs autographs before the start of an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans. (David J. Phillip, Associated Press)

Louisville was one of several teams that made fashion statements — if you can call it that — in the postseason. Baylor did its best imitation of a highlighter with its fluorescent yellow uniforms, and its green camouflage combo can be re-used during hunting season. Cincinnati had some color combos that even the Crayola folks didn't realize existed.

And the Cardinals? They made everyone see red — though not a hue anyone recognizes.

"I didn't think Coach P would like them," Siva said, referring to coach Rick Pitino, who has set the trend for coaches with his finely tailored suits and designer shoes. "Coach P doesn't like change."

But Pitino can't argue with Louisville's track record when wearing the duds.

Doesn't need his reading glasses, either.

"We're going to hopefully get him in an infrared tie soon," Siva said.

Actress Ashley Judd cheers before an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game between Kentucky and Louisville Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans.  (David J. Phillip, Associated Press) Actress Ashley Judd cheers before an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game between Kentucky and Louisville Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans. (David J. Phillip, Associated Press)

JUDD JAZZED: Actress Ashley Judd has been one of the most visible supporters of Kentucky basketball over the years, showing up to games in Lexington and around the country.

No way was she going to miss seeing the Wildcats face Louisville at the Final Four in the Big Easy.

Sitting in the front row behind Kentucky's bench inside the Superdome, Judd was decked out in blue and white as she awaited the most-anticipated game in the heated in-state rivalry with the Cardinals.

"It's just wonderful for the state," she said. "This is like the good ol' days. This is about history, it's about family. It's very special."

NICE SEATS, COACH(ES): Michigan State coach Tom Izzo had no idea why he was sitting in the front row of a section of Louisville fans — especially since the Cardinal ended his season last weekend — other than he was supposed to have a bunch of well-known coaches along with him.

Every coach who has won a national championship was given seats in the first row behind the media at the Superdome, Izzo said. It was a new gesture by the NCAA this season. Joining Izzo were North Carolina coach Roy Williams and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.

"It's fun to be here," Izzo said, "but it's always more fun the way we've been here in the past."

Izzo won the national championship with Michigan State in 2000, part of a run of three straight trips to the Final Four. He returned to the Final Four in 2010.

His top-seeded Spartans lost to Louisville 57-44 in the regional semifinals. The Cardinal were playing Kentucky in the first national semifinal on Saturday night.

KENTUCKY ROYALTY: Joining actress Ashley Judd courtside behind the Kentucky bench were rapper Jay-Z, Nike chairman Phil Knight and Creative Artists Agency consultant William Wesley.

Jay-Z, a 14-time Grammy Award winner, made an appearance earlier this season at Rupp Arena to watch the Wildcats, and came out onto the floor when he was introduced in the second half of the Wildcats' 69-62 victory over Louisville on Dec. 31 in the team's first meeting.

Nike sponsors Kentucky, while Judd is known as the program's biggest fan, often driving from her Franklin, Tenn. home to attended a handful of games each season. She's been a constant part of this year's Final Four run and gave a hug to Jay-Z, dressed in a New York Yankees' hat and his trademark jeans.

Wesley, also known as "Worldwide Wes" is a friend of Kentucky coach John Calipari, dating back to the recruitment of Wesley's godson, Dajuan Wagner, at Memphis.

OFFICIAL STRIPES: The NCAA selected Les Jones, Doug Shows and Joe DeRosa to officiate the first game between Kentucky and Louisville on Saturday night.

Jones is leading the crew as part of his fourth consecutive Final Four; Shows is officiating a Final Four game for the second straight year; and DeRosa will make his Final Four debut after a long career as an NBA official.

Jones had worked five previous games featuring Kentucky or Louisville this year, including the Wildcats' regional finals win over Baylor last week. He also officiated the Cardinals' one-point home loss to then-No. 2 Syracuse on Feb. 13.

Shows has worked 11 games featuring the teams, including with Jones in Kentucky's victory against St. John's and Louisville's victory over Western Kentucky in December. DeRosa has had no experience with either school this year.

In the second game featuring Kansas and Ohio State, Jamie Luckie is working a Final Four for the third consecutive year. He's joined by Tom Eades, who is part of the Final Four for the third time in five years, and Patrick Adams, who is assigned for the second time in three years.

Luckie officiated Ohio State's victory over Cincinnati in the regional semifinals in Boston and a Kansas win over Georgetown at the Maui Invitational in November. Eades also worked the game in Maui between Georgetown-Kansas and four other Jayhawks games along with three Ohio State games this year.

Adams has worked two Kansas games this season, but none featuring the Buckeyes.

The standby official is Roger Ayers, who will be available for both games. Ayers, at his first Final Four, was part of the crew that didn't catch a sixth player on the court in Louisiana-Lafayette's 72-70 overtime victory over Western Kentucky on Jan. 5.

MONICA'S MOMENT: Grammy award winning R&B recording artist Monica performed the national anthem before Saturday night's semifinal games in New Orleans.

Monica Brown released her debut album "Miss Thang" in 1995 and had two singles reach the top of the R&B singles list, making her the youngest recording artist to have consecutive No. 1 hits on the Billboard charts. Her second album featured the duet, "The Boy is Mine" with Brandy.

Monica has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide and was named one of the Top 50 R&B and hip hop artists of the past 25 years in 2010. She is married to Phoenix Suns and former Michigan State guard Shannon Brown and resides in Atlanta.

WOODEN AWARD: Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis won the Wooden Award on Saturday, the latest honor in his accolade-filled season.

Davis becomes the second freshman to win the Wooden Award after Kevin Durant also accomplished the feat in 2007. Hall of Fame coach John Wooden's grandson, Greg, presented the award on behalf of the Los Angeles Athletic club.

Davis won AP Player of the Year on Friday.

AP Sports Writers Colin Fly and Nancy Armour contributed to this report.

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