Louisville Cardinals (0-0) vs. Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers (0-0)
Exhibition Game Two
Game Time: 7 p.m.
Location: KFC Yum Center: Louisville, Ky.
Television: ESPN+/ACC Network Extra
Announcers: Kent Taylor (play-by-play) and Jody Demlng (analyst)
Favorite: No line
Series: Louisville leads, 51-18 (non-exhibitions)
Last Meeting: Louisville won 101-64 on Oct. 30, 2017 in Louisville (exhibition)
About Kentucky Wesleyan:
A proud program that has won eight NCAA Division II National Men’s Basketball Championships — the most of any program in D-II — Kentucky Wesleyan is entering its sixth season under head coach Drew Cooper, who has so far failed to achieve the level of success the Panthers are accustomed to.
Wesleyan is coming off a 15-14 season a year ago — its first winning season in a non COVID-shortened campaign since 2016-17. Still, that was only good enough for an eighth-place finish in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference and a first round exit in the league tournament.
Even so, there are reasons for optimism for the 2023-24 Panthers. KWC added a slew of new players during the offseason and returned a solid chunk of its production from a year ago. The team kept things close with Saint Louis — although the Billikens were missing five frontcourt players — for most of the night in their exhibition opener last week, ultimately falling by 10.
Borja Fernandez, a 6’7 forward originally from Spain who played his first three seasons at D-I Montana State, led the team in scoring against SLU with 22 points.
—Louisville’s 39-game winning streak in exhibition play was snapped with last year’s 57-47 loss to Lenoir-Rhyne. The exhibition loss was U of L’s first ever against a college opponent, and its first overall since Dec. 2, 2000 when Denny Crum’s final Cardinal team fell 87-86 in double overtime to the Global Sports All-Stars.
—The Cards have since won two straight exhibition games, defeating Chaminade in their second exhibition a year ago and Simmons College on Oct. 18.
—The Cardinals’ 41-point win over Simmons was their seventh-largest margin of victory in 73 exhibition games played since 1982.
—Monday night’s game marks the final tune-up before the 2023-24 season begins. The Cards will open things up at home against UMBC a week from tonight.
—Louisville’s 28 losses last season broke the school record for most losses in a season. The previous high was 20 in 1997-98.
—Louisville lost nine games by 20 points or more last season, the most 20-point losses in one season in the history of Cardinal basketball.
—Louisville is returning 47.1% of its scoring, 57.1% of its rebounding and 28.1% of its assists from last season. They have eight newcomers who together created the sixth-best recruiting class in the country, per 247Sports.
—Kenny Payne is the only Division I men’s basketball head coach in the country who was a NBA Draft pick, as well as a national champion as a player and a coach (including as an assistant).
Prediction: Louisville 84, Kentucky Wesleyan 62