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
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.
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
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
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.