Cardinals to attack ACC all over again
Louisville’s 2015-16 campaign couldn’t have ended on a more ignominious note. This year, however, essentially begins in paradise.
Rick Pitino’s crew will hit the Bahamas on Nov. 23 for a first-round matchup vs. Old Dominion in the annual Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. The Cardinals then stand to face either Wichita State or LSU the following afternoon.
There were no tourneys, of course, several months ago. The university missed the ACC and March Madness festivities, having placed a self-imposed ban on the men’s basketball squad for breaking an unspecified NCAA rule. One of the most dangerous teams in the country ripped off a 23-8 record and simply went home.
Everybody affiliated with the school craves redemption now, and handicappers are honoring the on-campus blend of hunger and athleticism. Online sports book Bovada.lv gives Louisville odds of +1000 to capture the 2017 college hoops crown. Only Duke (+450), Kentucky (+650), Villanova (+850) and Kansas (+1000) curry greater favor with bettors at present.
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That doesn’t guarantee Pitino an easy road, particularly in the early going. UL leaned heavily on graduate transfers Trey Lewis and Damion Lee last winter, but their eligibility has expired. Sophomore Chinanu Onuaka also declared for the NBA draft, with the Rockets snatching the 6-foot-10 center in the second round.
Quentin Snider and Donovan Mitchell can be counted on to carry the load in the backcourt. The Cardinals’ lack of a definitive rim protector, though, is something to exploit. Jeff Jones’ Monarchs, the inaugural champions of the Vegas 16, may proceed exactly in that direction in roughly 130 days.