By Nick Selano–
After a three game losing streak, the University of Louisville men’s basketball team had things back on track with three consecutive wins. After claiming the No. 1 spot in the nation, the Cards fell against Syracuse, 70-68. The Cardinals went on to lose two more games against Villanova and Georgetown. Finding themselves in the middle of the Big East conference standings at 4-3 the team needed to respond, and do so quickly.
Their response has been heard and has impressed many fans enough to give hope for the back-to-back Final Four appearances many thought would happen following last year’s success. When hosting Pittsburgh, just days after scoring 51 points in a loss at Georgetown, there was a different vibe in the KFC Yum! Center. The student section was only about 50 percent filled at tip-off and those that did attend were cheering much less than normal. However, the team earned a hard fought victory over the Panthers 64-61.
Following that win, the Cardinals saw their first ranked opponent since their home loss against Syracuse. They dominated then-No. 25 Marquette from tip-off until the final buzzer and won 70-51.
In their most recent victory, the team took a two point halftime lead and turned it into a 20 point victory at Rutgers.
These three consecutive wins can give a sense of hope to even the most skeptical fans. Here the Cardinals sit in third place in the Big East only one loss behind both Marquette and Syracuse. The Cardinals still have an upcoming game at Syracuse and have already beaten Marquette. Other than that, the Cards have seven games left in Big East regular season play.
Three of those games are against South Florida, Seton Hall and DePaul, which have combined for only four Big East wins so far this year, almost half of the Cardinals’ total. Louisville also plays rival Cincinnati at home right before Senior Day. Finally, two of those remaining games are against No. 25 Notre Dame. A very good way to finish Big East play would be with a win against Notre Dame on Senior Day.
The Cardinals should be playing their best basketball in March and April, not in January and February. Looking at the rest of the season, Louisville is set up to succeed as long as the team plays the game they are capable of playing. Despite the loss to Notre Dame, the Cards have been giving up only 53 points per game recently while recording 15.3 steals per game as well.
The keys to winning seem to be a suffocating defense and fast break scoring. When those two keys are on point, Louisville is capable of being one of the best teams in the nation. Come April, Louisville fans will have a chance to see just how those keys play out.
Photo by Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal