—NET Rankings Update: No. 7.
—The game of the week in women’s basketball is tonight in Raleigh, where No. 9 Louisville is taking on No. 4 NC State. Here’s the U of L preview.
—Eric Crawford writes about Louisville’s “zombie walk” in Atlanta last night.
“We did not deserve to win the game with the way we played for 40 minutes,” Mack told Valvano. “We had a couple of spurts where we made a couple of plays, but every time we got within a couple, we turned the ball over. That’s why we’re sitting here with a loss.”
Here’s the problem for Louisville. Its 10-game winning streak came, with a couple of exceptions, against teams that likely aren’t headed to the NCAA Tournament. The win against Duke was a good one. Likewise the win over Virginia. But the average ranking of those 10 opponents was No. 80. You have to go back to 2013-14 for a 10-game conference stretch rated that poorly, and before that you have to go to 2005.
While Louisville has played well and shot well over the past 10 games, it is still a team with some things to prove down the stretch of this season — and losing at Georgia Tech is evidence.
In reality, the Cardinals had won some of those 10 games impressively, but it was not a dominant run. There were still some issues to address. Nothing brings them to the forefront like a disappointing loss. Perhaps Mack can make use of this with his players.
He indicated he’ll revisit the starting lineup. He’ll also likely keep looking harder at the 2-3 zone defense that seemed to give Louisville a lift against Georgia Tech. He might also consider more full-court pressure.
Still, even when it had transition opportunities on Wednesday, Louisville didn’t take advantage. It was 11 of 18 on layups in the game. And the bottom line is that, as poorly as the Cardinals played, if they played with the kind of energy and intensity they display when they’re at their best, they still win this game.
—Reid Detmers and Alex Binelas are both on the Golden Spikes Award preseason watch list.
—Louisville is No. 8 in Sports Illustrated’s updated college hoops power rankings.
—TuTu Atwell: Louisville’s single-season receiving leader and world class chef.
—Louisville is the last 2-seed in Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology.
—The Atlanta Journal Constitution recaps Georgia Tech’s “signature win” over Louisville.
—Danielle Lerner shares her thoughts on U of L’s loss to Georgia Tech.
Mack spoke earlier this week about the respect his program has for the Yellow Jackets, a team he said is better than its sub-.500 record. It wasn’t a lack of preparation that dragged the Cardinals down this time, but a lack of execution.
Given Louisville struggled against Georgia Tech not even one month ago, perhaps the expectation for a pristine performance this time around was slightly misguided. But the five convincing wins Louisville secured in the intermediary period seemed to suggest the team was finally clicking, and it’s difficult not to view Wednesday’s loss as a step backward.
Saturday’s game at Clemson could provide a morale boost, but Louisville’s remaining regular-season schedule doesn’t hold many opportunities for résumé-boosting wins. Games at Florida State (Feb. 24) and Virginia (March 7) are the only Quad 1 matchups.
The harsh reality now, with ACC tournament and NCAA Tournament seeds at stake, is that every game comes packaged with an expectation of victory.
—The Red Cup Rebellion podcast talks about how good this Louisville baseball team is.
—The U of L lacrosse team will host No. 9 Denver on Saturday in its 2020 home opener.
—The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has Jordan Nwora going 37th overall in his latest NBA mock draft.
37. Sacramento Kings (via DET)
Jordan Nwora | 6-7 wing/forward | 21 years old, junior | Louisville
Nwora is a high-level shooter in this class who has hit a high percentage of 3s in his career at Louisville. He has a quick release, and is an underrated vertical athlete. But his defensive ability raises real questions, as he doesn’t move particularly well laterally and is heavy-footed. He also hasn’t exactly taken much of a leap this season for Louisville. Essentially, he is who he was last year. The Kings could use more shooters, though. One other Louisville name worth watching here: David Johnson isn’t placed on this mock draft, but he’s caught the eye of some scouts. Louisville hasn’t lost since he started playing about 20 minutes per night, and his vision is sublime. If they make a run toward the Final Four, I wouldn’t lose sight of him as a player teams will have their eye on.
—Despite last night’s loss U of L stays at No. 1 in Tar Heel Blog’s ACC power rankings.
—Louisville is all the way down to No. 15 in Gary Parrish’s daily rankings for CBS.
—Jordan Nwora is one of 30 players on the Naismith Award’s midseason watch list.
—Louisville football is No. 41 in Bill Connelly’s first S&P Rankings for the 2020 season.
—On the day Mark Emmert gave vague, “we’re working on it” answers to Congress about NIL compensation, Michigan State threw a massive salary at a coach with a 5-7 career record. Pat Forde says that’s an issue.
—Louisville does not make Sports Illustrated’s group of eight teams that can win the national title.
Louisville (23–3, 12–1 ACC)
This was the toughest team to leave out, but it wouldn’t be the Magic Eight if it didn’t involve a tough decision. The Cardinals are exactly where they were expected to be in the preseason (No. 5 in the AP poll) and own a gaudy 21–3 record, albeit only three wins of which are Quad 1 victories. And full disclosure: I picked them as my preseason national champion pick and still think they can win the ACC and make a March run. The Cards are on fire from three right now, shooting 45% since Jan. 1 after shooting 36.5% in November and December, but that number is so high that some regression seems inevitable. David Johnson has brought a much-needed new dimension to Louisville’s backcourt, but given how guard-heavy championship teams usually are, it’s fair to wonder about the deep-run sustainability of a team that doesn’t have one averaging more than 8.8 points. If Johnson can play that alpha role and consistently take pressure off star forward Jordan Nwora in March, all bets are off. But that’s a lot to ask of a freshman who hasn’t played the full season.
—Friday is opening day for Louisville’s top-ranked baseball team. Here’s a preview of what should be a tough opening weekend series at Ole Miss.
—McDonnell was on the Packer & Durham show Wednesday to talk about the upcoming season.
—The Cards are down to No. 10 in Matt Norlander’s latest power rankings for CBS.
—And finally, beat NC State.