The best time of the year has finally arrived! Not only are the leaves changing colors, but programs around the country are in the gym and on the court preparing for the start of the 2016-2017 basketball season! Rankings continue to come out and analysts around the country are beginning to make their Pre-Season Final Four predictions, but there is one program everyone is sleeping on. The Louisville Cardinals are ready to make noise once again in the College Basketball world! Here are the reasons why the Louisville Cardinals will be cutting down the nets in Arizona this season!
1. Revenge Is Sweet, Not Bitter
Everybody loves that feeling of getting revenge. When looking for revenge, you do not stop until you reach your goal. Louisville is coming off a season in which the NCAA installed sanctions on the program for its wrong-doing. I am not condoning what happened within the program in anyway, but Louisville has moved on from this dilemma and they have their sights set on a fresh start and revenge. With that said, every team in the ACC should be worried if the Cardinal appears on their schedule. This Louisville team will be playing not only for revenge on the NCAA, but will be playing for redemption of the public view of their program and school. I cannot think of a better way of getting revenge on the NCAA than lifting their very own trophy at the end of the year. I can already see Coach Pitino accepting the championship trophy with a sly grin on his face!
2. Who Left? No Problem
Louisville lost its top three scorers from this past season: Damion Lee (15.9 PPG), Trey Lewis (11.3 PPG), and Chinanu Onuaku (9.9 PPG). This means that 37.1 PPG left the program and are up for the taking. This seems like a crazy amount of points to be claimed, but Louisville’s roster is extremely deep. Players such as: Donovan Mitchell, Quentin Snyder, Jaylen Johnson, and Deng Adel, will all step up into big roles for Louisville this season and be the “main contributors” for the team. Then, there are players like: Anas Mahmoud, V.J. King, Tony Hicks, Dwayne Sutton, and Mangok Mathiang, who all have a particular skill set to change not only the pace of the game, but the momentum and moral of the team during the game. What makes this Louisville team special? Well, there are only two true freshman. This means that this year’s Louisville team is experienced and experience is the most important trait to have in the ACC, which is arguably the best basketball conference in the nation. Since the ACC is young and a lot of programs are rebuilding due to players leaving, Louisville could make a lot of noise in the conference this year!
3. Home Sweet Home
So you think you can come into Louisville and walk out with a win? Think again. Louisville finished 18-1 at the KFC Yum! Center last season and finished 3-1 against the Top 25 last year when home. Over the past 2 seasons, Louisville’s win percentage at home was 87% and they were 6-4 against Top 25 teams at home over that span. This trend should continue this year as well! Louisville has home match ups against: Purdue, Kentucky, Virginia, Duke, and even Miami this season! All of these teams will be ranked when they come strolling into the Ville and will be challenged to keep their ranking at the end of the week!
4. The Early Bird Gets The Worm
Over the past 6 seasons, Louisville basketball has never started a season worse than 9-1. Rick Pitino knows how to get his team started fast and this season will be no different. Starting the season with a fantastic record is very important in the ACC because it is almost guaranteed that you will lose at least one game during ACC play. The last team to go undefeated in ACC play was the 1999 Duke Blue Devils. In order to earn a solid spot in the NCAA Tournament, your record needs to be almost spotless with losses to other top teams. Since joining the ACC, Louisville has averaged 6 losses a year in conference, most being on the road. With this in mind, it is extremely important for Louisville to get off to fast starts year by year because it is almost impossible to come out of ACC play with no losses. By securing a strong ranking in the AP Top 25 Rankings, and by limiting the losses early in the season, Rick Pitino has continuously lead the Cardinals to the NCAA Tournament with title aspirations and expectations.
5. Rick Pitino… Must I Say More?
Hate him or love him, you must respect what Rick Pitino has done in his coaching career. Coach Pitino is 743-258 all time, a 74.2% win percentage. He has coached at Boston University, Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville, and at all of these schools, Coach Pitino has increased the win percentage of the program. Rick Pitino is the only Men’s Basketball Coach in Division I history to lead three different schools (Providence, Kentucky, and Louisville) to the Final Four and the only coach in the NCAA to lead two programs to the National Championship. To make it even better, he won the national championship with those programs (Kentucky and Louisville). Want more? Well, these two programs are huge rivals and creates arguably the greatest rivalry of all time in sports. Pitino is hands down one of the best College Basketball Coaches of all time and earned his spot in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. When Rick Pitino says he is excited for the upcoming season because it could be, “something special,” you need to believe him and hop on the hype train! Rick Pitino knows how to get a team back on top of the College Basketball world and he will demonstrate these skills this year with the Louisville Cardinals!
(Image from ESPN.com)
The Ville ‘20