By Beau Kilpatrick—
This weeks college basketball polls are out and Louisville moves from No. 14 to No. 12 after their win over No. 7 Duke.
The reality is that the Cardinals should be ranked much higher. They should be in the top-ten when you look at their record. U of L moved two lousy spots in the polls after taking down the vilified No. 7 Duke Blue Devils. How come Louisville doesn’t get the same respect as other teams?
We can look at three teams positioned ahead of the Cardinals to make the argument that U of L’s resume is much more impressive; No. 9 North Carolina (UNC), No. 7 West Virginia, and No. 5 Kentucky (UK).
The full AP Poll: http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/rankings
No. 9 UNC has faced off against three ranked teams. They beat Wisconsin in Maui when Wisconsin was ranked No. 16 at the end of November. After that, UNC lost to No. 13 Indiana and Kentucky when they were No. 6. So, UNC has the same amount of losses as Louisville but only has one quality win on their resume.
No. 7 West Virginia has a record that mirrors Louisville. However, the Mountaineers are ranked five positions higher and they are coming off of a loss to unranked Oklahoma. All three of West Virginia’s losses were to unranked weak teams. West Virginia only has two quality wins on their resume. They beat No. 6 Virginia on December 3, and Baylor when they held the top spot a week ago. But that win would have been represented on last week’s polls, not the current rankings.
The Kentucky Wildcats are No. 5 in the AP polls and their resume is better than UNC’s and West Virginia’s. But is it better than Louisville’s? UK has faced four ranked teams this season. They are at 50 percent, winning two and losing two, including a head-to-head loss to Louisville. That should count, shouldn’t it? The Cats beat No. 13 Michigan State in mid-November and UNC over a month ago in the middle of December. UK lost to No. 11 UCLA nearly six weeks ago and also lost to their in-state rivals, the Louisville Cardinals. U of L was ranked No. 10 at the time they played.
When you look at these three teams in particular, they have played against two, three, or four ranked opponents and none of them have beaten more than two ranked teams this season.
Now lets look at Louisville’s resume. The Cards are now 15-3 and sitting at No. 12. U of L has taken on a much more difficult schedule, facing seven ranked opponents this season. They have not lost to an unranked team, unlike the other three schools in this debate. Their three losses have came at the hands of—at the time ranked—No. 20 Baylor, No. 12 Virginia, and No. 23 Notre Dame. But, they have also beaten four ranked teams. These include, No. 15 Purdue, No. 6 Kentucky, No. 16 Indiana, and most recently, No. 7 Duke.
Louisville has squared of with seven ranked opponents, while the other three schools combine for nine total ranked opponents. The Cards have won four out of those seven, which is only a single loss shy of the combined effort of UNC, West Virginia, and UK. Louisville also has the most recent quality win against Duke less than a week ago. So why are the Cardinals so much further down the AP Poll than these other teams?
For Louisville’s season stats: http://www.espn.com/mens-college-basketball/team/_/id/97/louisville-cardinals
It’s because people love to hate the Cardinals. They are the “dirty” birds. The school has always been considered the underdog, the little brother, and they are viewed as troublemakers. However, the Athletics department prides itself on the grade point average of its student athletes.
The football team brings home more bowl trophies than any other school in the state and surrounding areas.
Dan McDonnell’s baseball team consistently makes the trip to Omaha for the College World Series.
The school’s swim coach also coaches with the U.S. Olympic team, along with Olympian Kelsi Worrell bringing the gold back home to Louisville.
Finally, Coach Rick Pitino and his Cardinals are perennial contenders in March Madness and are the last school in the region to bring home a national championship in basketball.
But people hate the Cardinals. They hate the success they achieve against all odds. They hate how impressive the campus has become over the years. They hate the Cardinal sports complex because they are jealous of the state of the art facilities. They hate that the coaches become better at Louisville than they were at other schools. They hate when “little brother,” the “dirty” birds, the alleged troublemakers, succeed when every indicator points towards an inevitable disaster.
This is not a new concept. Louisville and their fans are used to the adversity. They are used to coming in under the radar every year. Louisville is known for having a chip on their shoulder and rightfully so. They are undermined, devalued, and every year they prove they are a force to be reckoned with when they take down the traditional powerhouses and wreck everybody’s March Madness brackets.
The No. 12 Cardinals face off against Clemson tonight at 9 p.m. on ESPN at the KFC YUM! Center.
They will travel to Tallahassee this weekend to challenge the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles Saturday at 2 p.m. on ESPN.
As always, GO CARDS!! #L1C4