Team Of The Week: Louisville Cardinals

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For a minute, it looked like the Louisville Cardinals were dead and buried.

That’s what happens when your arch-nemesis steals your soul on national television. The Cardinals – who are already dealing with more off-the-court issues than just about any team in the history of college basketball – lost by 29 points to Kentucky on Dec. 29th, a game in which it looked like Louisville quit.

Since that game, Louisville has … well, they’ve actually looked like a team with a shot at making a run at the NCAA tournament.

They whipped up on Pitt at home, a game that was only relevant because Kevin Stallings tried to talk that noise to Louisville fans. Then they lost to Clemson on the road in overtime; there’s no shame in that this year, not when Clemson is a top 15 team on KenPom.

That leads us to this week, when the Cardinals landed themselves a top 30 road win by knocking off Florida State before they beat a pretty good Virginia Tech team at home.

None of that is enough to truly get Louisville onto the right side of the bubble at this point in the calendar. But those are major steps in the right direction, particularly for a team that was badly in need of confidence and a few good headlines.

THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • PURDUE: The Boilermakers snuck by with a one-point over a suddenly-impressive Michigan team on the road on Tuesday night, following that up by going into Minneapolis and giving Minnesota their worst home loss since Lew Alcindor and John Wooden rolled into the Barn with UCLA.
  • TEXAS TECH: The Red Raiders did what they needed to do in order to keep their hopes of winning the Big 12 regular season title alive – they protected their home court. On Saturday afternoon, Chris Beard’s club knocked off No. 2 West Virginia in Lubbock. We wrote a profile about Beard’s rise from obscurity last week.
  • STANFORD: The Cardinal went from being one of the most disappointing teams in the court to a thoroughly intriguing player in the Pac-12 title race. Stanford has the talent to be a tournament team and we have finally seen it the last two weeks. After sweeping UCLA and USC two weeks ago, Jerod Haase’s club won at the Washington schools this week. Suddenly they’re 4-1 in the league. They get the Arizona schools this week and travel to the LA schools the week after that. We’ll know if they’re for real very soon.
  • OHIO STATE: The Buckeyes managed to avoid a drop-off after a win over Michigan State put them on the map. They handled both Maryland and Rutgers quite easily this week. The Buckeyes are tied for first in the Big Ten.
  • OKLAHOMA: The Sooners continued to play dominating basketball, beating No. 8 Texas Tech and No. 16 TCU this week to keep pace atop the Big 12 standings.