Louisville unveiled its non-conference slate last week, and there are a few games college basketball fans will want to have circled on their calendars.
Louisville’s November will be a mix of small and mid-majors coming in and out of the KFC Yum! Center, plus a neutral site game in Nashville against in-state foe Western Kentucky.
The major tests begin at the turn of the month with Michigan heading to Louisville in a rematch of the 2013 National Championship Game, which I promise really did happen, even if the NCAA says otherwise.
One week later, it’s off to New York for another neutral-site battle, this time versus Texas Tech. The Red Raiders will look much different than they did a season ago when they came within a victory of the national championship, but as long as head coach Chris Beard is on the sideline, opponents will be weary.
Naturally, Louisville ends its non-conference schedule with the annual meeting with hated rival Kentucky in the team’s only true road game outside of ACC play. It will be the 53rd meeting between the teams, with the Wildcats holding a 36-16 edge. Kentucky has won the last two matchups, including a 71-58 victory in Louisville last December. The Cardinals haven’t defeated their nemesis in Lexington since 2008, dropping five straight in the unfriendly confines.
All in all, this is a decent slate of games. Head coach Chris Mack is giving his team a month to ease into the season, then putting it to the test in December. A few of the non-power names on this schedule have put together competitive teams lately, too, like Akron, Western Kentucky and North Carolina Central, which could be helpful come Selection Sunday if those opponents manage good NETs by season’s end.
The Cardinals are returning tons of talent from a season ago and will be expected to contend for the ACC and perhaps a Final Four. Championships are not won in November or December, but we’ve seen how much the non-conference portion of the season can affect a team’s seeding in the NCAA Tournament.