We’re less than a month into college basketball season, but reality is already starting to deviate from what we expected in many cases. You can crunch numbers, break down rosters and analyze coach interviews for months but have all that insight changed immediately once the ball is tipped in November.
As the saying goes, “ball don’t lie,” and the ball has been telling some interesting stories early this season. Arizona looks incredible despite losing three NBA Draft picks, North Carolina looks vulnerable despite returning four of five starters from a team that reached the national title game. Kentucky is off to a slow start, and so is Villanova. Meanwhile, Virginia has burst onto the scene following an NIT appearance last season to look like an ACC and national title contender. In the Big 12, are we sure Texas won’t be a threat to Baylor and Kansas atop the conference?
The sample size is small, but it’s expanding by the day, and we’re ready for a few mulligans. For months leading up to the season, we wrote on this website and talked on the Eye on College Basketball podcast — and other platforms — about our predictions for what would happen this season. Now, for this week’s edition of the Dribble Handoff, we are each taking the chance to walk back one of those predictions based off what we’ve seen so far.
Louisville finishing regular season 14-17
Back in August, during an episode of the Eye On College Basketball Podcast focused on Louisville, I predicted the Cardinals would go 14-17 in the regular season. Turns out, I was too optimistic. So I’d like to have that prediction back, please. Because Year 1 of the Kenny Payne era is an unmitigated disaster.
The Cardinals are now 0-5 with losses at home to Bellarmine, Wright State and Appalachian State. More recently, they lost to Arkansas by 26 points and to Texas Tech by 32 points in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. They’ve gone from 91st at KenPom to 154th at KenPom in a span of 14 days while also losing DJ Wagner– the top recruiting priority and grandson of Louisville staffer Milt Wagner — to Kentucky.
Honest question: Has a head-coaching career at a high-profile school ever started this poorly?
Obviously, it’s still early. Anything is possible, I guess. But the truth is that Louisville will be lucky to win 10 games this season, and it feels reasonable for fans of that proud program to start asking big questions about the…