—Spread Check: North Carolina by 23.
—Seven former Louisville football players will participate in the divisional round of the NFL Playoffs.
—The Louisville women’s basketball team is up to No. 12 in this week’s coaches poll.
—Jeff Goodman ranks the 20 worst college basketball coaching hired of the last 20 years, and ... well, at least we’re No. 1 in something again.
With Kenny Payne going through a second consecutive disastrous season to start his coaching tenure at Louisville, I decided to do a deep dive into the worst coaching hires in men’s college basketball over roughly the past quarter-century.
Payne headlines this list, but there’s one coach who makes two appearances. And another didn’t even make it through his first season. Seven of the worst 20 hires are former NBA players/coaches, and four were shown the door after they couldn’t make it work at their alma maters: Patrick Ewing (Georgetown), Eddie Jordan (Rutgers), Sidney Lowe (NC State) and Jerome Allen (Penn).
1) Kenny Payne, Louisville
Record: 10-38, 3-22 (1-plus season)
Winning Percentage: 21%
AD Responsible: Then-interim and now current AD Josh Heird
Payne seemed like the perfect choice, and he had complete support to take over the program as a former Louisville star who played in the NBA and then worked as a longtime college assistant (at Oregon and later at Kentucky with John Calipari). Prior to taking over the Cardinals, Payne had been working as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks. In March 2022, he replaced Chris Mack in Louisville — and he’s been beyond miserable. The Cardinals won only four games in his first season, and they are 6-10 this season with back-to-back losses at DePaul and at home against Arkansas State. It’s almost unfathomable how low Payne has taken this once storied program that has won three national titles.
—Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich discuss what “success” would look like for this Louisville men’s basketball team during its upcoming grueling stretch of games.
—YaYa Diaby was living it up after the Bucs win over Philadelphia last night.
—Wake Forest win highlights:
—Pro Football Focus has Louisville at No. 14 in its way too early college football top 25 for next season.
—Jody Demling highlights some local football recruits from the class of 2025 to keep an eye on.
—The Fayetteville Observer predicts a lopsided win for North Carolina over Louisville tomorrow night.
Armando Bacot, Tar Heels should rack up points in the paint
Louisville is 259th in effective field goal percentage — according to KenPom.com — allowing teams to shoot an average of 52.1% from the floor. The Cardinals’ defense is 306th in two-point percentage at 52.9%. In its 103-67 win against Syracuse, UNC scored a season-high 58 points in the paint. In their previous three ACC games, the Tar Heels averaged 28.6 points in the paint. Armando Bacot, who had 16 points and 11 rebounds against the Orange, finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds last season in a win at Louisville. The Tar Heels need to pound the paint.
UNC vs. Louisville score prediction
UNC 85, Louisville 64: It’ll be a long day waiting for tipoff, but it’ll be a longer night for the Cardinals. Louisville is playing better of late, but the Tar Heels are humming on both ends of the court.
—Matt McGavic of Louisville Report is predicting a 20-point UNC win.
—Jeff Brohm and the Louisville football staff are back on the road this week.
—Eric Crawford writes about the current difference between expectations and standards when talking about the Louisville men’s basketball program.
The standard of Louisville basketball is that it is on a par, or really close to being on a par, with Duke and North Carolina. It is better than Wake Forest.
But the expectation right now, for anyone who has been paying attention, is nowhere near that high.
And that’s a problem. When expectations don’t align with standards, you have issues. And that’s something that, in my business, I have to pay closer attention to.
It’s one thing to cover the soup game. It’s another to be paying for the unsatisfactory soup. Does that make any sense?
The job of the reviewer isn’t to say, “Well, they’re on the way to fixing the soup so we need to show some patience” or to say, “Well, these people in the kitchen are really nice and they came into a tough situation so you need to just choke this soup down the best you can.” Or, even, “I’ve always written that this was a great restaurant so I have to defend my past opinions instead of the reality in the bowl in front of me.”
No, we have to say what it is. The standard of Louisville basketball is that it will stand in and compete with these teams, even if they are highly ranked.
The expectation of that, however, at the moment, is that it is probably not able to do that.
—The 2024 schedule for the outdoor U of L track and field season is out.
—Michigan State is flirting with missing the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1997, but Tom Izzo says there will be no surprise retirement from him in 2024.
—And finally, Louisville legend DeJuan Wheat talks about his playing career in this podcast.