Louisville's weaknesses are obviously guard play and inconsistent focus, and both were in evidence in this one. The Irish, particularly Kyle McAlarney but also Ryan Ayers, did everything they wanted to do on offense from three-point range. Louisville had no answer for Luke Harangody, but that makes sense -- nobody does. They lost this one because they couldn't stop anybody and couldn't get their own offense going against one of the nation's softest defenses.
Every now and then, when we try to predict this sport, we are confronted with the reality that these games are being played by kids between the ages of 18 and 21, and are therefore unpredictable. This is obviously an example. NOTHING that happened in the past month suggested that Notre Dame, on a seven-game losing streak, could even hang close with Louisville, let alone beat them by 33.
Consequences, for Louisville, are negligible. They're still 18-5 overall and 9-2 in conference. Even if they lost all seven of their remaining games, they'd be 18-12 and 9-9 (albeit on an eight-game losing streak) and on the tournament bubble. But of course, they can't possibly lose all seven of their remaining games. The next one, for example, is against DePaul.
Consequences for Notre Dame, however, are much more interesting. If this game was truly a sign that the Irish have turned some kind of corner and can/will play better the rest of the way, then they actually still have a shot.
Notre Dame is 13-10 overall, 4-7 in the Big East. Their remaining schedule has three games they should obviously win (home against South Florida, Rutgers and St. John's) and four tough ones (at West Virginia, Providence and UConn and home against Villanova). If they can win the three easy ones and somehow pick up two of the other four (say, win at Providence and come up with a major upset of WV, UConn or Nova), then they get to 18-12, 9-9. From there, a win or two in the conference tournament likely seals a bid.
Lots of work to do still, of course. But those numbers mean that what Notre Dame did last night was nothing less than save their season.
Monday morning Cardinal news and notes
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