Can Louisville start out year 2 of the Kenny Payne era with a win? (Maybe)
The Louisville Cardinals are looking to put last season behind them with a win tonight, and to be above .500 for the first time since the 2021-22 season. Kenny Payne needs a win here tonight, and after the loss to Kentucky Wesleyan, not a lot of Cardinal fans are on his side.
If Payne can get the Cardinals to a 1-0 start it would just be a step in the right direction. Not only would it give the team confidence, but it would mark the first time he had Louisville with a winning record. I know that sounds like a low bar to get to, but baby steps are what Payne needs right now. If Louisville comes out and loses any of their first 3 games, he will have no good will left with the fans, and it will be pretty obvious that this won’t work out.
However, Payne can still turn this around, and I’m not ready to give up on Payne, at least not yet. Even Rick Pitino’s St. John’s team lost an exhibition game, and I know that team is going to be competitive in games this season, so it is too early to give up on this Louisville team. Payne does have to win fans and critics back to his side, and it is not too late to do so. All he has to do is lead Louisville to wins, if the Cardinals win, Payne might win some more fans over.
While Louisville is in the 100s in the KenPom rankings, UMBC is in the 300s and have no reason to even be competitive in this game. However, this is Kenny Payne’s Louisville team, so anybody has a chance against the cards.
Louisville has been going down on the betting lines this morning, as they started as -11.0 point favorites, and are now down to -8.5 point favorites. The moneyline is also -430 for the Cardinals.
Every sign in the world of college basketball would point to the Cardinals not winning this game, however, I can’t bet against the Cardinals in this situation. UMBC is a really bad basketball team, and even with the Cardinals immense struggles, I still have to give them the edge based on talent alone.
Can the Cardinals lose this game by 10+ points? Yes, they absolutely can, and we will find out a lot about this team when they come out to play tonight. I expect the players to be more locked in, and if Kenny Payne wants to keep his job he will need to be locked in too.
If Louisville loses by 8 in the final 2 minutes of the game, and Payne comes out and talks about building a culture, Josh Heird will have his hands full.
For now I am going with Louisville to win this game, but don’t be surprised if they fall to another inferior opponent in the Kenny Payne era.
UMBC 65, Louisville 73