Team Name: Louisville Cardinals
Head Coach: Rick Pitino, 335-116 (.743) overall, 148-62 (.705) in conference play between Conference USA and the Big East/American Athletic Conference in 13 seasons with the Cardinals
SB Nation Community: Card Chronicle
Last Year Record: 31-6 (15-3), tied first place in the American Athletic Conference
Final Kenpom Ranking: 1
Key Losses: Russ Smith (18.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.6 apg), Luke Hancock (12.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 2.2 apg), Chane Behanan (7.6 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.0 apg)
Key Returnees: Montrezl Harrell (14.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.2 apg), Chris Jones (10.2 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.9 apg), Wayne Blackshear (8.2 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.7 apg), Terry Rozier (7.0 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg)
Additions (Transfers, Recruits): Quentin Snider (freshman from Louisville, Ky.), Dillon Avare (freshman from Lexington, Ky.), Matz Stockman (freshman from Oslo, Norway), Jaylen Johnson (freshman from Ypsilanti, Mich.), Anas Mahmoud (freshman from Cairo, Egypt), Trent Gilbert (freshman from Georgetown, Ky.), Shaqquan Aaron (freshman from Seattle, Wash.), Chinanu Onuaku (freshman from Lanham, Md.)
Games vs. BC: January 28 in Chestnut Hill, 9:00 p.m., ACC Network
Projected Starting Lineup:
G Chris Jones, senior
G Terry Rozier, sophomore
F Wayne Blackshear, junior
F Montrezl Harrell, junior
C Mangok Mathiang, sophomore
He's a Dude: Montrezl Harrell, junior forward. Pitino loses last year's leading scorer, Russ Smith, but returns one of the most talented forwards in the nation in Montrezl Harrell (14.0 ppg, 8.4 rpg). Pronounced mon-TREZ (with a silent "L") HAIR-uhl. The junior recorded 12 double-doubles last season, including 11 in the final 22 games of the season. Scored in double-digits an incredible 30 times...again, as a sophomore. At 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, Harrell would prove to be one of the toughest players BC will face all season.
Series: 3-2 Boston College
First Meeting: Boston College 96, Louisville 90 (3OT) (March 13, 1966)
Last Meeting: Louisville 89, Boston College 85 (2OT) (December 29, 1996)
Last Meeting at Conte Forum: Boston College 81, Louisville 67 (November 30, 1995)
Last Five Meetings:
L - Louisville 89, Boston College 85 (2OT) (December 29, 1996)
W - Boston College 81, Louisville 67 (November 30, 1995)
W - Boston College 88, Louisville 83 (March 18, 1969)
L - Louisville 81, Boston College 74 (December 30, 1967)
W - Boston College 96, Louisville 90 (3OT) (March 13, 1966)
How They Match Up With Boston College: The Cards lose a lot of talent from last year's 31-win team, including Smith, the team's leading scorer, and Luke Hancock, the team's best shooter. Pitino will have to rely more on Harrell to carry the bulk of the production on offense.
Pitino brings in an unusually large freshman class with some question marks but also a few impact freshmen. Snider should push Chris Jones for minutes, while Onuaku should give Louisville's front court a bit of a boost.
It's gonna take time for all the pieces to fit together, though, and by the time the Cardinals are ready to make the trip up to the Heights, this young team should start to find its rhythm. The conference transition hasn't been all that kind to the teams that've come before Louisville—Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame—and I suspect the Cardinals will take a bit of a step back in the ACC this year after running through the American Athletic last season. The Cardinals' first ACC schedule isn't all that kind to Louisville either, with home-and-homes against the defending ACC champ Virginia, North Carolina, Pittsburgh and what could be a sneaky-good Miami team.
GIF if Boston College wins:
GIF if Boston College loses:
Way Too Early Prediction: Louisville 81, Boston College 67
New league, and a new set of road venues could give Louisville some fits. I expect BC will be competitive, but no one on the Eagles' roster can guard Harrell. Louisville comes out firing and takes a huge lead into the locker room before BC chips away and makes it a respectable 10-point loss.
Rick Pitino must be thrilled that his first BC-Louisville game is in Boston...