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Get To Know A Marquette Basketball Opponent: Louisville Cardinals

Hey, it’s these jerks again, except with a non-jerk as the head coach.

NCAA Football: Louisville at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Name: University of Louisville

Location: Louisville, Kentucky, obviously

Founded: 1798, kind of

Kind of? Yeah, kind of on a lot of levels. The charter to form Jefferson Seminary was created in 1798, but the seminary didn’t actually open their doors until 1813. The seminary would eventually close its doors in 1829, but it would reopen in 1837 under the guise of the Louisville Medical Institute. That was a product of a faculty fissure at Transylvania University in Lexington, and yet another faculty fissure led to the creation of the Louisville Collegiate Institute in 1840. In 1846, the Kentucky state legislature stepped in, told everyone to knock it the hell off, merged the LMI with the LCI along with the new Louis D. Brandeis School of Law to create the University of Louisville. Fightin’ doctors opening rival schools and needing a state edict to calm down and work together sounds like a very Kentucky thing.

Enrollment: 22,640 students, with 16,033 undergraduates.

Campus Traditions: Shoutout to the UL Alumni Association for making this very convenient video for this purpose.

Nickname: Cardinals

Why “Cardinals?” Because the University of Kentucky didn’t get there first, honestly. The cardinal is the state bird of Kentucky, so with UK occupying the Wildcats nickname, Cardinals was just sitting there for UL.

What’s the mascot’s name? I truly and deeply love the fact that the mascot’s name is Louie. I love stupid pun nicknames for mascots.

What’s with the teeth? Birds don’t have teeth. No, they do not. I have no real explanation for you, other than 1) the mascot is supposed to be anthropomorphic, so giving it teeth helps it look more human in that regard (looking at you, Providence) and 2) you have to admit that the logo/mascot looks a lot more fierce with the teeth sticking out of its growling beak than it would either without the teeth or with the beak closed.

The heck is up with their #L1C4 hashtag on the Twitter machine? Louisville First, Cards Forever. Simple, but not immediately obvious.

Notable Alumni: Howard Fineman, Newsweek political analyst and regular contributor to The Tony Kornheiser Show; James Patterson, co-founder of Long John Silver’s, Rally’s, and Chi-Chi’s; Frank Neuhauser, the first winner of the National Spelling Bee; Gina Haspel, the current Director of the CIA; Basketball Hall of Famer Wes Unseld; and Mitch McConnell, senior United States Senator from Kentucky and Senate Majority Leader

That was surprisingly lackluster. It was, wasn’t it?

Last Season: After Rick Pitino had his contract terminated on October 16th, 2017, which was after practices had officially started by the way, David Padgett led the Cards to a 22-14 record with a 9-9 record in the ACC. That was good enough for a #2 seed in the NIT where they advanced to the third round before falling to Mississippi State.

Oh, man, Rick Pitino. Why did he get fired, exactly? Well, officially, it was because the feds alleged that an Adidas employee paid Brian Bowen’s family $100,000 to get Bowen to attend Louisville. There was enough evidence in the criminal complaint that was sworn out in federal court that directly implicated Rick Pitino that UL immediately suspended both Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich before eventually ditching the both of them.

However, that was really more a case of UL’s higher ups saying “y’know what, screw this dude. We’re not carrying his water any more.” Louisville had already self-banned themselves from the 2016 postseason in an effort to lessen the NCAA penalties for the burgeoning sex scandal involving the men’s basketball program. Wait, let me back up, because I have to clarify WHICH sex scandal involving the men’s basketball program. This one was the one where Andre McGee was organizing stripper parties in a UL residence hall for players and, more importantly, for recruits. The NCAA officially dropped the hammer on that one in on June 15, 2017. Brian Bowen had committed to Louisville on June 3rd, which means that, in the eyes of the UL administration, Pitino had engaged in NCAA recruiting violations while waiting to hear the results of the NCAA’s investigation into other recruiting violations. Ain’t that a hoot? Oh, and the NCAA stripped Louisville of being officially recognized as the 2013 National Champions, making them the first team to ever officially lose a national championship as a result of NCAA penalties. Fun!

You mentioned a different sex scandal? Oh, do you not remember? Back in 2009, Rick Pitino made public an extortion attempt against him. Karen Sypher was arraigned on extortion charges shortly thereafter, which led to the fun story of Pitino engaging in sexual congress in 2003 with Sypher at Porcini, an Italian restaurant in Louisville. Rick would eventually testify in court that the act took no longer than 15 seconds. There’s also the subplot of Pitino getting a UL equipment manager to marry her and paying for her abortion as a result of the activity at Porcini.

I miss Rick Pitino already. Me too.

This Season: 3-1 after losing to #5 Tennessee in the first half of the Preseason NIT Tip Off doubleheader on Wednesday.

Current KenPom Ranking: #57

KenPom Projection: 15-16, with a 7-11 record in ACC play

Stats Leaders

Points: Jordan Nwora, 19.3 ppg
Rebounds: Jordan Nwora, 7.0 rpg
Assists: Darius Perry, 3.5 apg

Head Coach: Chris Mack, in his first season as Louisville head coach. Mack was head coach at Xavier for the past nine seasons, guiding the Musketeers to the NCAA tournament in eight of those years. He had his most successful years at Xavier after The Reformation of the Big East, earning a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a #1 seed in 2018. He has an all-time record of 218-98.

What’s their whole deal, anyway? Marquette’s interior defense will likely be tested. The Cardinals are shooting 60% inside the arc this season, and rank #19 in the country in that department according to KenPom.com. On top of that, UL gets to the line a ton, ranking first in the country in Free Throw Rate. It will be crucially important for Theo John, Ed Morrow, and whoever else ends up patrolling the paint to keep their hands off of attacking players. The good news is that the high free throw rate is typical of a Chris Mack team, so this is something that the Marquette coaching staff will be familiar with coaching against. While Louisville shoots well inside and gets the line a bunch, they take a lot of threes relative to the rest of the country. Nearly 43% of their shot attempts are coming from behind the arc, which is a top 90 mark.

The good news is that UL is struggling mightily on the defensive end thus far this season, and that’s not typical of a Mack team. They’re #223 on KenPom in Effective Field Goal Percentage, #197 in Turnover Rate, and #224 in Free Throw Rate. Teams are shooting 37% from behind the arc against them, although the Cardinals do a reasonable job of keeping teams from getting those long range shots off. If Marquette can assemble 40 minutes of effective and efficient offense with a lot of ball mobility to create open shots, they should be able to salvage a 1-1 record from this trip to Brooklyn.

All Time Series: Marquette has a 26-43 all-time record against Louisville. It’s one of the most frequent matchups in MU history thanks to the two squads sharing a conference between 1995 when Conference USA was formed and 2013 when Louisville left the Big East for the ACC. While the yearly meetings as conference partners is the reason for such a high total of contests, the series dates back to 1951 and featured at least one game per season through the 1965-66 season. Louisville currently holds a two game winning streak in the series with both of those wins coming against ranked Marquette teams. Out of the 69 all-time meetings, either Louisville or Marquette was nationally ranked in 29 of them, but this game will not add a game to that total.