Location: Louisville, KY
Conference: Big East
Last Year’s Record: 31-6
Why they’ll make it: As the case goes with all Rick Pitino-coached teams, Louisville will once again have a deep bench in which to work. While the stats may no show it, Rick Pitino makes good use of almost every player on his roster throughout the season. With so many players who saw significant minutes returning and a top-20 recruiting class arriving, expect much of the same out of the Cardinals. They’ll play extended full-court defense, make good use of the three-point line, and lean on Samardo Samuels down-low for big buckets. This is one of the top-flight programs in the country so don’t expect them to have too many down years. This doesn’t look to be one of them.
Why they won’t make it: Terrence Williams, Earl Clark, and Samardo Samuels were the top players on this team last season. As they went, the team went. When they struggled, the team struggled. That’s why Louisville has to get more production out of its backcourt. In too many key situations last season, the Cardinals couldn’t count on their backcourt to give them an offensive punch. This was especially true in the Regional Final against Michigan St where they struggled mightily in the halfcourt. If Louisville’s guards aren’t able to provide more of a punch, it’s fate may be similar to that Regional Final. That might be unacceptable to Cardinal fans.