LOUISVILLE, Ky. - With the 2021-22 season just over three weeks away, various preseason polls, lists and rankings are starting to trickle out all across the collegiate basketball landscape.
One of which is the KenPom predictive ratings system, regarded as among the more trusted statistical models in the sport. On Sunday, the 2021-22 preseason KenPom ratings were released.
Like in the CBS Sports Preseason Countdown, Louisville didn't make the top 25, but are certainly within earshot - as the Cardinals debut as KenPom's No. 36 team in college basketball with an adjusted efficiency margin of +16.83.
Louisville's defensive efficiency comes in as the 27th-best in Division I, whereas their offensive efficiency sits at 51st. Strangely, their tempo is placed at No. 272, although this is sure to change once the season begins. They currently projected to go 19-11 over the course of the regular season, and 12-8 in conference play.
The Cardinals start the season as the fourth-best team in the ACC according to KenPom, trailing only Duke (10th), Florida State (24th) and Notre Dame (27th). Gonzaga, Michigan, Kansas, Baylor and Illinois round out top five overall.
Louisville is coming off of a 2020-21 season in which they finished 13-7 and 8-5 in the ACC - missing the NCAA Tournament by a razor-thin margin. They opened up the year at 9-1 and as high as the No. 16 team in the nation, but went 4-6 in the second half of the season due to COVID issues, injuries, and at times offensive inconsistencies.
Over the offseason, the Cardinals got deep into roster management mode, as eight newcomers replaced six departing players. Head coach Chris Mack also let go of assistant coaches Dino Gaudio and Luke Murray, replacing them with Kahil Fennell and Ross McMains.
Fortunately for Louisville, they won’t consist of exclusively newcomers. Forward/center Malik Williams is back after he opted to stay for a fifth year with the program; starting forwards Samuel Williamson, Jae’Lyn Withers and Dre Davis return; as do role players forward JJ Traynor and center Gabe Wiznitzer.
The Cardinals will tip-off the regular season on Tuesday, Nov. 9 against Southern at the KFC Yum! Center.
(Photo of David Johnson: Jamie Rhodes - USA TODAY Sports)
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