Preseason rankings are meaningless by nature, but college basketball preseason rankings in April take irrelevant to another level. With that in mind, let's take a look at where Louisville stands in each and every set of 2011-2012 rankings released thus far.
Fox Sports (Jeff Goodman): 4th
Lose: Preston Knowles
Key Returnees: Kyle Kuric, Peyton Siva, Terrence Jennings, Chris Smith, Rakeem Buckles, Jared Swopshire, Mike Marra, Gorgui Dieng
Newcomers: Wayne Blackshear, Chane Behanan, Zach Price, Angel Nunez
Breakdown: The loss of Knowles will hurt, but Rick Pitino brings back a bunch of quality veterans and adds a strong freshman class.
Record: 25-10 (Second round of NCAA tournament)
Key returnees: PG Peyton Siva, PF Terrence Jennings, SG Chris Smith, PF Jared Swopshire, SF Kyle Kuric, SF Rakeem Buckles, PF Gorgui Dieng
Departing seniors: SG Preston Knowles
Incoming recruits: SG Wayne Blackshear, PF Chane Behanan, C Zach Price
The skinny: The Cards overachieved in 2010-11, winning 25 games and finishing tied for third in the Big East. Expect more next season. Siva’s primed for a breakout season, Kuric and Smith developed into key players and Buckles and Swopshire will both be healthy. Given that their only roster loss (Knowles) will be offset by Blackshear’s addition, Louisville’s ready to push Syracuse and UConn for the Big East title.
Rick Pitino brings back ten players from his 11-man rotation this past season, plus Jared Swopshire will return from injury and former Wake Forest big man Tony Woods become eligible after sitting out a year due to transfer rules. The Cards also bring in a pair of McDonald’s All-Americans in Wayne Blackshear and Chane Behanan. In other words, Louisville will have a plethora of talent to put on the floor with their always headache-causing full-court pressure attack.
Sports Illustrated (Luke Winn): 11th
11. Louisville: Departed guard Preston Knowles was the heart of the Cards, but they return everyone else, plus add blue-chip forwards Chane Behanan and Wayne Blackshear. This is Peyton Siva’s year to emerge as a star point guard.
Notable players definitely gone: Preston Knowles
Notable players expected to leave early: None
Notable players expected to return: Kyle Kuric, Peyton Siva, Terrence Jennings, Chris Smith, Rakeem Buckles, Mike Marra, Gorgui Dieng
Notable newcomers: Wayne Blackshear, Zach Price, Chane Behanan, Angel Nunez
7. Louisville (25-10, Lost in 1st Round). Barring some strange NBA early-entrant decisions, the Cardinals will only lose one player from their rotation – leading scorer Preston Knowles (who only shot 37 percent from the field and jacked 7 three-pointers a game). The Cardinals will probably be the 2nd best team in the Big East (slightly behind Syracuse), likely starting a Siva-Smith-Kuric trio, Jennings in the middle, and perhaps freshman Chane Behanan at PF. The recruiting class is solid. Plus, they can use that Morehead State defeat as motivation.
The loss of G Preston Knowles will hurt, but the Cardinals return just about everyone else from a team that overachieved all season before getting upset in its opening NCAA tournament game. Louisville also adds two top-35 recruits in Chane Behanan (No. 23) and Wayne Blackshear (No. 32).