Clairvoyants and Las Vegas handicappers are adept at predicting what the future holds. Not us. But while we can’t pinpoint Louisville’s ultimate disposition as it stumbles through the darkest recesses of the ACC wilderness, contending for competitive ignonimy with benighted programs of the past, we’re assured the Cardinals are destined for rare historical territory in 2023.
Coach Kenny Payne’s club won only three of its first 24 games, giving unfortunate new meaning to the “L” in their UL acronym. The Cardinals’ Feb.1 meeting with Georgia Tech produced their sole triumph within the league and only win in the 2023 calendar year. They have yet to win on the road. Their run of nine straight losses against all opponents set an ACC record for futility to start a season.
The Cardinals have fewer than a dozen games left on their schedule, including one in the ACC Tournament. All of those contests are against ACC opponents.
Through Jan. 25 Louisville was last in the league in scoring offense, scoring defense, scoring margin, field goal percentage, field goal percentage defense, assists, turnover margin, assist/turnover ratio, and defensive rebounds.
One can only imagine how, beneath the surface, Payne, his staff and players are feeling about the hole they’ve dug, and that others have helped them dig. An indication, or rather an admission, came after a 21-point thrashing at home by Pitt. “There is a battle going on and they are the aggressor,” the rookie coach said. “They are the predators, and we are the prey.”
How much darker could your prospects be when your coach flatly offers such a discouraged analysis? And what does it say about your program’s outlook under that coach? Transparent, anyway.
To put into perspective the historic depths that could await Louisville, there have been seven teams that went through an ACC season without a win, most recently Boston College in 2016 under Jim Christian and Pitt in 2018 in Kevin Stallings’ second and last year. With the Cards’ win over the Yellow Jackets, they’ve averted that particular ignominy. Five more teams registered a single conference win; Wake Forest was the only one in this century in Jeff Bzdelik’s first season (2011).
|LOW MEN ON THE TOTEM POLE
ACC Teams With Fewest Overall Wins In A Season