It's no secret that Dickie V and I have had our issues over the years. He's said some things, I've said some things. Some of them we meant, others we didn't. Plates were thrown against walls.
Even with all that history, Vitale has been the guy most vocal and most consistent about his belief that Louisville should be the No. 1 team in the country heading into the 2012-13 season.
The latest piece of evidence came Wednesday, when Vitale again tabbed the Cards as his national title favorites in (electronic) print.
Why am I going with the Cardinals? Let me count the ways.
The Cardinals had a taste of the Final Four last year before falling to Kentucky. Having a veteran like Peyton Siva back to run the offense in so important. There is a nucleus returning that came so close last year. I look for big things from Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng as well.
2. Blackshear a breakthrough star
Wayne Blackshear missed most of last season with a shoulder injury but he has the potential of stepping up big-time. He can do it all as a difference-maker with tremendous talent.
3. New faces will help
Luke Hancock averaged double-figure scoring at George Mason before transferring. Montrezl Harrell is a highly-regarded newcomer from Hargrave Military Academy who should contribute. Louisville has the depth to win it all.
4. Dieng is a factor in the middle
Having a shot-blocker in the paint can make a difference. Go ask Kentucky how important Anthony Davis was in the middle last season.
5. Pitino is a winner
He should be in the Hall of Fame and winning it all would add a big feather in his cap. His outstanding leadership skills will help get this team to the winner's circle.
I guess it couldn't hurt to give this whole friendship thing a try...I mean, if it's all right with you.