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Louisville gets some love in early 2018-19 rankings

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I’ll take it.

NCAA Basketball: ACC Conference Tournament-Florida State vs Louisville Nicole Sweet-USA TODAY Sports

The super early, meaningless top 25 rankings for the next college basketball season are flowing like wine as they always do on the morning after the national championship game, and Louisville is getting some decent love.

I’ve got the Cardinals just outside my top 25, but that’s mostly because I’m assuming, unlike everyone else apparently, that U of L isn’t going to get both Deng Adel and Ray Spalding back. If that winds up being inaccurate, then I’ll probably have the Cards somewhere in the top 25 when we re-visit this next month.

Here’s where other people have Louisville as we head into the offseason:

Associated Press: No. 12

12. Louisville. Former Xavier coach Chris Mack inherits a lot of talent and he’s been hitting the recruiting trail hard. Expect a bounce back from the Cardinals.

The Sporting News: Unranked

CBS: No. 14

14. Louisville

Coach: Chris Mack

2017-18 record: 22-14

Notable players definitely gone: Anas Mahmoud, Quentin Snider

Other expected departures: None

Notable players expected to return: Deng Adel, Ray Spalding, V.J. King, Ryan McMahon, Jordan Nwora, Dwayne Sutton, Darius Perry, Malik Williams, Lance Thomas

Expected additions: None

Why the Cardinals are ranked here: Chris Mack will inherit a nice roster left behind by Rick Pitino — one that will give the former Xavier coach a chance to compete near the top of the ACC in his first season at Louisville. And it’s also worth noting that Mack has multiple open scholarships available to use however he sees fit. So don’t be surprised if the Cardinals add some helpful pieces before the start of the season.

ESPN: Unranked

USA Today: No. 14

14. Louisville (22-14)

New coach Chris Mack inherits a talented roster with the Cardinals. Mack always maximized his talent at Xavier, which included an Elite Eight run in 2007 and a No. 1 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament. Can Mack make the Cardinals an ACC contender in his first year? That’d be tough, but getting this team to the NCAAs shouldn’t be a problem with Deng Adel (15.0 ppg) expected to return.

Sports Illustrated: Unranked

SB Nation: No. 30

The Athletic: No. 12

12. Louisville

Confirmed Departures: Anas Mahmoud, Quentin Snider

Projected Departures: None

Projected Returnees: Deng Adel, Ray Spalding, Darius Perry, V.J. King, Ryan McMahon, Jordan Nwora, Malik Williams, Dwayne Sutton, Lance Thomas

Incoming Transfers: Steven Enoch (Connecticut)

Projected Open Scholarships: 3

No disrepsect to David Padgett, who did a fine job steering the ship this season at Louisville, but Chris Mack is one of the country’s absolute best coaches, and he’ll be inheriting a roster with an awful lot of talent, even if they didn’t get results this past year. Adel and Spalding have the ability to break out into first-team All-ACC players, King and Perry are talented perimeter players, and Williams is a high-upside offensive center. Enoch should do well to replace the defensive impact of Mahmoud. The key will be figuring out what they can do at the point guard position. But with three open scholarships, we’re guessing here that Mack finds an answer on the transfer market to solve his problems and set up the Cardinals for a nice run in his first year.

The Big Lead: “Just Missed”

Fan Rag Sports (Jon Rothstein): No. 20

20. Louisville

Projected Starting Five:

PG: Darius Perry

SG: V.J. King

SF: Deng Adel

PF: Ray Spalding

C: Malik Williams

Projected Bench: Dwayne Sutton, Ryan McMahon, Jordan Nwora, Lance Thomas, Steve Enoch

Key Losses: Quentin Snider, Anas Mahmoud

Key Newcomers: Steve Enoch

NBC: No. 12

12. LOUISVILLE CARDINALS

Who’s gone: Anas Mahmoud, Quentin Snider, Deng Adel*

Who do they add: Chris Mack, Steve Enoch

Projected starting lineup: Darius Perry, Dwayne Sutton, V.J. King, Raymond Spalding*, Malik Williams

How good of a coach do you think that Mack is? Because that is what this really comes down to. Even if the Cardinals lose Adel and Spalding to the draft, there is enough talent on this roster to make an NCAA tournament — I think the evidence of that is that if the Cardinals hadn’t lost a fluke game to Virginia they would have been in the tournament last season. And all due respect to David Padgett, Mack is a better coach than he is right now.

Yahoo: Unranked