Most pollsters have Louisville ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 in the country before the season starts, but is that too high?
Let's recap: Louisville finished the regular season with a 10-8 record in Big East play, seventh in the conference. Before their incredibly hot postseason run, the Cardinals were a pedestrian and certainly not overwhelmingly great, 22-9. 13 of these wins came against teams ranked outside of the RPI Top 100 and only 6 wins out of 11 tries as an away team. But then, Peyton Siva took control, Kyle Kuric started hitting perimeter jumpers and the rest of the guards penetrated and attacked defenses at will. Louisville rattled off 8 straight wins before bowing out to Kentucky in the Final Four.
Three starters return, but the two that are gone, Kuric and Chris Smith, were two of the team's top three scorers which could pose a problem for a team than ranked 168th in points per game. But that does open the door for the more established offensive game of sophomore Chane Behanan, Peyton Siva, Wayne Blackshear and Kevin Ware. Blackshear is expected to be amongst the Big East's most improved players in '12-'13 after missing most of last season with an injury.
Louisville's offensive struggles will certainly hold them back, at least in a few games this season. Will their defense be there to pick them up? Most likely, but where the Cardinals will certainly struggle is that big basket down the stretch. Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan are not "go to" options in the post, nor does Louisville have the perimeter threat that Kuric offered, even in the down season that he had.