NCAA Basketball

Soft 16: Louisville Cardinals

 

McMahon

Last season the Cards finished 22-14 (9-9 ACC) under interim head coach David Padgett. It was a disappointing season as they were bounced by Mississippi State in the Quarterfinals of the NIT. After a long year and off-season for the Cards, they look to bounce back with some familiar faces in V.J. King, Akoy Agau, and Ryan McMahon; as well as, some young standouts from last year in Malik Williams, Darius Perry, Jordan Nwora, and Dwayne Sutton.

Louisville is still very young, but they have some notable additions that will help with leadership to help develop these young guys. The one graduate transfer that everyone is talking about is Christen Cunningham. Cunningham is a graduate transfer from Samford where he scored double figures in 71 of his total 110 games there. It is likely that he will be the starting two guard this season. Another player that the Cards are adding is graduate transfer from Richmond Kwan Fore. Fore is one of the more electric players on the team and gives me vibes of Donovan Mitchell. The man can jump out of gym and could be the guy to give the Cards the boost they need on the court. Cunningham and V.J. King were named the team’s captains, and Cards fans hope that they will be able to bring back the intensity that the backcourt once had with Peyton Siva and Russ Smith.

Another guy that would like to bring back the intensity that Louisville once had is new head coach Chris Mack, previously the Xavier head coach for 9 years (2009-2018). It is a perfect situation for him. He basically gets to start over fresh after all of the problems surrounding the program and make a team that he wants. Not to mention that Louisville is one of, if not the, richest program in college basketball. He definitely took a step up, and I think his wife may have had something to do with the decision as well, being that she’s a Louisville native.

This program is really just trying to put the past behind them and rebound after a rough couple of years. Unfortunately they still play in the ACC, which means they have to play the likes of Duke, North Carolina, and Virginia. The conference is loaded this year and I really don’t think there is any way that this team can be anything more than what they were last year.

Here are some games to watch:

 

11/21 – Tennessee (6) – Neutral

11/27 – Michigan St. (10) – Home

12/29 – Kentucky (2) – Home

1/12 – North Carolina (8) – Away

2/2 – North Carolina (8) – Home

2/4 – Virginia Tech (15) – Away

2/9 – Florida St. (17) – Away

2/12 – Duke (4) – Home

2/16 – Clemson (22) – Home

2/20 – Syracuse (16) – Away

2/23 – Virginia (5) – Home

3/9 – Virginia (5) – Away

Yeah that’s right, Louisville plays 12 games against ranked opponents, and might have the worst month of February I’ve ever seen. With the Cards only returning one full time starter and probably one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country, I just don’t see this being more than a transition year for the Chris Mack-era. I think Louisville will finish the season 6th in the ACC with a record of 21-9. They’ll probably be bounced in the Quarterfinals of the ACC tournament, by the 3 seed which I’d predict to be North Carolina. As a Louisville fan, I’d be happy to see the team make the NCAA tournament and to the second round. I think that is a possibility, especially with Chris Mack.

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