The 'Bad January Loss' And Past National Champions

USA TODAY Sports

Thanks to some negative history and the current two-game losing streak being maintained by the Cards, "bad January loss" has become the new hottest phrase and topic of discussion in the city today.

The common thought is that Louisville has tended to have at least one absolute January clunker over the past decade or so, but that fans believed this team was above the performance we all witnessed last night in Philadelphia.

Many are arguing that losing back-to-back games in January (including one to a team that may miss the NCAA Tournament) "isn't something championship teams do." But is that accurate, or is Louisville more like recent national champions than we think?

Let's look at the past ten teams to cut down the nets and their setbacks in the month of January.

Kentucky (2012) - Did not lose

Connecticut (2011) - At No. 14 Notre Dame (73-70); vs. No. 23 Louisville (79-78)

Duke (2010) - At No. 20 Georgia Tech (71-67); At NC State (88-74); At No. 7 Georgetown (89-77)

North Carolina (2009) - vs. Boston College (85-78); At No. 4 Wake Forest (92-89)

Kansas (2008) - At No. 24 Kansas State (84-75)

Florida (2007) - Did not lose

Florida (2006) - At Tennessee (80-76); At South Carolina (68-62)

North Carolina (2005) - At No. 4 Wake Forest (95-82)

Connecticut (2004) - At No. 11 North Carolina (86-83); vs. Providence (66-56)

Syracuse (2003) - At No. 3 Pittsburgh (73-60); At Rutgers (68-65)

If Louisville is able to beat Georgetown on Saturday and Pittsburgh next week, it will join half of the past 10 national champions in being teams that lost two games in January. Two of the past champs did not lose in the month, two more lost only once, and just one (Duke in 2010) tasted defeat three times.

Of the 15 total losses suffered by these champions, nine came against ranked opponents. The bigger issue for Louisville is that just three of the 15 teams that pulled these upsets wound up missing the NCAA Tournament (Rutgers in '03, South Carolina in '06 and NC State in '10). Villanova has a chance to make the field of 68, but if the tournament started today, the consensus is that they would not be in it.

The only other major concern the data presents is that the 2006 Florida team is the only one that suffered back-to-back losses in January. Those Gators went on to go 10-6 in the SEC and earn a three seed in the big dance before going on their big run.

There's some comforting data here and some not so comforting data here. Ultimately, the only thing that matters is whether or not the team is going to rise to a challenge that has now been pretty clearly set directly in front of it.

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