2020 Louisville Championship Odds: Legit Final Four Contender
The best thing that happened to the Cardinals this year was a leg injury. Or at least you can spin it that way. Jordan Nwora had a major breakout season as a sophomore, and the forward was sure to go to the NBA. But a leg injury meant he couldn't work out for NBA teams, so he withdrew from the draft and came back for another year. He is the leading returning scorer in the ACC and one of the easy favorites to be named ACC player of the year. The ACC lost a lot of talent last year, so Nwora's return is huge. And he is far from alone - six of the team's top seven scorers from last year are back for another kick at the can. The team won 20 games and earned a seven seed in the NCAA Tournament last year, so just returning the roster mostly intact would lead to increased expectations this year. It's the second year for coach Chris Mack, among other factors. But they added a boatload of talent to go with what they already had, and it is hard to view them as anything other than one of the top two teams in the ACC and a legitimate Final Four contender.
Louisville Cardinals Additions/Losses
Perhaps the most exciting immediate addition to the team will be one of the oldest players on the roster. Lamarr Kimble, a senior point guard, left Saint Joseph's last year after Phil Martelli was fired. He averaged 15.6 points per game last year, along with 3.6 boards and 2.6 assists. The Cardinals were not good playmakers last year, averaging just 13 assists per game. Kimble is a big addition.
The team added six youngsters as well in a recruiting class that wound up ranked 12th nationally - not bad for a team who didn't add a single recruit the year prior after the coaching change. The headliner is Samuell Williamson, a five-star wing from Texas who is a consensus Top 20 recruit. The front court has plenty of experience already - Nwora is all but an NBA lock, and Malik Williams could be a pro, too. But Williamson will at least press for time right out of the gate, and he could find himself with a big role as the season progresses.
The team adds three more four-star players with major potential. Center Aidan Igiehon and combo guard David Johnson are the top players from New York and Kentucky, respectively - though Igiehon is originally from the basketball mecca of Ireland. And shooting guard Josh Nickelberry is a borderline Top 100 player. Johnson is dealing with a shoulder injury that keep him out of action early on, and Nickelberry has some maturing to do, so both have redshirt potential.
Louisville Cardinals Schedule
The team has a very soft schedule in November, which sets them up for a lot of early success. Frankly, if they aren't undefeated heading into their December 3 game against Michigan, then they have a real issue. Later in December, they also play very tough games against No. 13 Texas Tech, and No. 2 Kentucky. And the new year starts with a challenging game against Florida State. The ACC schedule is as tough as it typically is, but they play Duke and North Carolina only once each, so it could certainly be worse. Virginia is probably going to be down from where they were last year. However, if they are surprisingly strong, and if things aren't decided in the conference until late, Louisville's season-ending trip to play the Cavs could be must see TV.
Louisville Cardinals Futures Odds and Trends
At +1400 to win the NCAA title, Louisville is the co-fourth choice along with Memphis and Kansas, trailing only co-favorites Kentucky and Michigan State, as well as ACC rival Duke. They are the third choice to win the ACC at +400, behind Duke at +275 , and a surprisingly popular Virginia at +300.
The team was a barely profitable 16-13-2 ATS in the regular season last year and just 1-2 ATS in the postseason. They were just 3-6 ATS in their final nine games.
Louisville Cardinals Predictions
The fact that the odds for this squad are longer than they are for Virginia to win the ACC just doesn't make a lot of sense. There is value to be had there. This is a very deep team, combining plenty of veteran experience with some nice new talent. If the new guys fit in, they will be able to roll very deep off the bench. And the coaching is strong. This ceiling is very high here, and I am a believer. They didn't win a NCAA Tournament game last year and were bounced in the second round of the ACC Tournament. It will be a big disappointment if they don't win at least six games between the two tournaments this year.
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