Conference: American Athletic Conference
How They Qualified: American Athletic Conference Tournament Champions
Region/Seed: Midwest, No. 4
The Louisville Cardinals are not as good as last year’s national championship team. Louisville naturally entered the season as one of the top teams in the rankings and as a favorite to make the Final Four, but it really shouldn’t have.
The Cardinals lost a couple of key players over the offseason. Eventually losing Chane Behanan did not make matters any better.
Still, this is a talented team and Russ Smith is one of the best players in the country and could go off once again in the NCAA tournament. Plus, Rick Pitino is the head coach.
What You Need to Know:
Leading Scorer: Russ Smith (18.2 ppg)
Leading Rebounder: Montrezl Harrell (8.1 rpg)
Leading Passer: Russ Smith (4.7 apg)
Bad Losses: None
Good Wins: SMU (twice), Connecticut (x3), Cincinnati
Louisville has had a relatively easy schedule. Sure, the Cardinals have been challenged, but this year’s AAC is nowhere near as good as last year’s Big East. They did play North Carolina and Kentucky in their non-confernece schedule, though. Too bad they lost both contests.
Smith is going to have to put up some big numbers if Louisville is going to go far in the tournament. He is not the only important player on the team, but he is the senior leader and can outperform even the best players in college hoops. That is because he is one of the best and his experience helps out a lot as well.
This is the defending national champs. They are the defending national champs until beaten. Just remember that.
The Louisville Cardinals are dancing!