My heart is still hurting a little on this Valentines Day. If yours is not then you must not be a Louisville basketball fan. It’s OK to be hurt but don’t be heartbroken – it’s just 1 game. Blowing a 23 point lead to Duke was probably the toughest loss I have ever witnessed. The loss to Virginia last year was painful but a 2 point lead, and possession of the ball, with 0.9 on the clock, only to lose by a 3 pointer that was banked in, was like being shanked. Watching a 23 point lead evaporate over 9+ minutes, was like a slow motion free fall off a cliff to your death – Definitely worse than the Virginia loss.
But, if you told me that Louisville would lose to Duke (who is the best team in college basketball despite the rankings) by 2 points, I would say, “I’m OK with that.” No shame in losing to the best team. 1 game doesn’t make or break your season. However, knocking off the best team sure could have given Louisville an enormous boost of confidence and a very big emotional wave to ride in on towards the post season.
Taking a step back and looking at the big picture, I (and many others) predicted Louisville to win 17 or 18 games. I felt they would finish 8th or 9th in the ACC and probably be one of the “last four in” for the NCAA tournament. Sitting at 17 wins with 6 games to be played, top 4 in the ACC and definitely in the NCAA tournament, is pretty impressive. It doesn’t totally take away the sting of blowing a 23 point lead to Duke but that perspective helps us move forward.
Oh well, chalk it up to a missed opportunity and take care of the rest of your business.
Now, let’s all say a quick prayer or offer an apology to Clemson for what is about to happen to them at noon on Feb 16th.
Looking ahead to the remaining schedule, the most important game that Louisville needs to win if they want a top 4 NCAA seed is on Feb 20th against Syracuse. Keeping with the theory that 1 games doesn’t make or break a season, if Louisville loses to Syracuse, they will still be in the NCAA tournament but will potentially be looking at a 6 seed (assuming the remaining games go as expected). The path of a 4 seed in the NCAA tournament is a bit easier so hopefully the Cards can squeeze the Orange.
Syracuse is currently 17- 8 also and 8-4 in conference yet they are not ranked. The stat with them that is most eye-catching is that they average 8.1 steals per game while only giving up 64 points per game. Due to our recent problems with turnovers, this game has me a bit concerned and it’s one the Cards really need. Luckily, Louisville has fared really well on the road this season.
On January 17th, I posted the remaining schedule with win %. Here is what that looked like on that date..
- February 16th vs Clemson – Louisville has a 75% chance to win.
- February 20th at Syracuse – Louisville has a 36.1% chance to win.
- February 23rd vs (4) Virginia – Louisville has a 21.7% chance to win.
- February 27th at Boston College – Louisville has a 67.5% chance to win.
- March 3rd vs Notre Dame – Louisville has a 83.8% chance to win.
- March 9th at (4) Virginia – Louisville has a 4.7% chance to win.
On February 14th, here is the updated win %. The Syracuse game is the most interesting change to me.
- February 16th vs Clemson – Louisville has a 82.9% chance to win.
- February 20th at Syracuse – Louisville has a 50% chance to win.
- February 23rd vs (4) Virginia – Louisville has a 27.1% chance to win.
- February 27th at Boston College – Louisville has a 78.8% chance to win.
- March 3rd vs Notre Dame – Louisville has a 91.4% chance to win.
- March 9th at (4) Virginia – Louisville has a 6.3% chance to win.
*** win % is according to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index.
As Always, GO CARDS!