Apr 8, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Louisville Cardinals celebrate after defeating the Michigan Wolverines 82-76 during the championship game in the 2013 NCAA mens Final Four at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

How Far Can This UofL Team Go? ****Update****

Just How Far Can This UL Team Really Go?

Mar 1, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Louisville Cardinals forward Luke Hancock (11) loses the ball out of bounds defended by Memphis Tigers guard Joe Jackson (1) during the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 1, 2014; Memphis, TN, USA; Louisville Cardinals forward Luke Hancock (11) loses the ball out of bounds defended by Memphis Tigers guard Joe Jackson (1) during the first half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE****

Now that we have watched our beloved Cardinals throw away another attainable victory, does that change where you think this team can finish?  I am curious to listen to other fans thoughts and perspectives on just that question.  My gut feeling is  that my original thoughts still prevail, but depending on the last two games of the regular season and our performance in the conference tournament, confidence will either build or collapse.  Let me know some of your thoughts.

*****

You know after the 2012 season, and our 10 losses, one can certainly expect the unexpected.  That season, and its seemingly unending shocks, leads me to believe that we are in for several surprises with this current team.  I would be the first to admit, I never thought the 2012 team would make a Final Four appearance.  Couple that, with playing the arch enemy BBN, (to their toughest competition in the entire tournament) and I would have said you were crazy.  Even still, it happened, and created the start of one of the most memorable times in University of Louisville athletics history.  Taking these things into consideration, how far can the 2014 team go?

I would like to think that this team could go to the Final Four, or perhaps better yet, the Championship, but for that to happen it is going to take some serious matchup help.  We have REAL trouble with teams that are large.  Take Cincy, or UK, or UNC for example.  In each instance, size and rebounding prowess completely killed any momentum and ultimately played into our demise.  This team is great, and has many great players, but it doesn’t have a great center.  One can argue that Montrezl is a center, but honestly, he is a power forward playing out of position and to his credit, he does well, but not like a “true” center.  We knew it was going to be difficult to replace Gorgui, but I am not sure anyone realized just how valuable his presence really was.  When you think back about the UNC game, and how often we got beat on the long ball, it puts in perspective just how integral having a big, impactful, center can be.  With all that said, if we are matched up with a team built on or around size, then this team is in trouble.  However, if we are matched against a team that isn’t solely predicated on size, then we have an immediate advantage.  What we lack in size, we exponentially make up in speed and experience.  This team is very fast and has a group of guys who have all played in multiple Final Fours.  If we were going to make a case for getting to the Final Four based on experience, we would unequivocally be the overall number 1 seed.

I think that experience will help propel us at least one round farther than we might otherwise advance.  With that assumption in mind, we are back to the original question; how far can this team go.  If we assume that they are going to make it to the Sweet 16, and we use the logic that their experience can get them one round farther, then does that mean they can go to the Elite 8?  Or is it the Elite 8 this team can advance too, and therefore, using the previous logic, make their third consecutive Final Four?  It is a fun argument to have, and a great position to be in, when you consider that we aren’t at all concerned that “if” we will make the tournament but just how deep a run we will make.

What do you think?  How good is this team?  How far can they go?  Can they make a third consecutive Final Four?  These questions will quickly be answered as we approach the end of the regular season.  I am not prepared to make my “official” prediction just yet, but I am excited to think about it.  One thing is certain, the debate will continue, and in the meantime, enjoy the last few weeks of the regular season.  Go Cards!

 

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