May 1, 2012

Cardinal Odds

Cardinal Odds
3-1 - Coach Charlie Strong Named Big East Coach of the Year
Strong's Cardinals will be pre-season picked to finish at the top of the Big East. Not bad for a group that was picked 8th the past two seasons. Strong should make room on his mantle cause he'll be taking home some hardware at the end of the season.

4-1 - Cards win Big East Conference and earn bid to BCS Bowl
Louisville closed last season as one of the hottest and most improved programs in college football. West Virginia's shady exit from the Big East leaves the landscape wide open for the Cards to earn the program's second BCS Bid. Barring a late-season let down, Louisville should be headed for the Orange Bowl.

3-1 - Gorgui Dieng win Big East Defensive Player of the Year
Many thought it was a head scratcher when Dieng missed out on the Big East award last season, finishing second to Syracuse's Fab Melo. With Melo headed to the NBA, Dieng now assumes his rightful spot as the league's most feared defensive presences. The Senegal Swat blocked a school record 128 shots as a sophomore and is on pace to catch the school's all-time leader, Pervis Ellison.

12-1 - Coach Rick Pitino leads program to back-to-back Final Fours
Back-to-back Final Fours don't happen too often, but coach Rick Pitino is uniquely positioned to have the Cards challenge to make a returned trip to college basketball's promise land. Pitino returns a solid nucleus from last season's Big East Championship team and adds some key pieces that could have the Cards contending for a national title.

15-1 - Louisville basketball wins National Championship
Is this the year Louisville finally breaks through and wins its first NCAA Championship since 1986? The pieces are certainly in place for Pitino as the Cards have been ranked as high as No. 1 heading into the season.

9-2 - Incoming freshman Terry Rozier qualifies to play in 2012-13 season.
Word snuck out shortly after the Kentucky Derby Festival Classic that Rozier has yet to academically qualify for the upcoming season. Folks around the UofL basketball complex don't seem too publicly worried about the situation just yet. However, they have expressed interest in other recruits in case Rozier isn't able to make up ground in the classroom over the summer. Nothing to stress over yet, but definitely a situation to monitor during the summer.

20-1 - Senorise Perry and Corvin Lamb rush for more yards than Dominique Brown and Jeremy Wright
Coach Strong said Perry had the best spring ball of any running back on the team. He also saw the bulk of the carries in the recent Red-White Spring Game. Lamb has been the recipient of Cardinal hype since he arrived from Miami Northwestern High School last year. With Wright coming off an inconsistent sophomore campaign, it wouildn't b e shocking to see a chaning of the guard in the backfield and the young studs start to see the bulk of the carries.

5-2 - Chane Behanan leads the team in rebounds
Gorgui Dieng led the team with 9.1 rebounds last season, but it was Behanan who came into his own during the Cards' stretch run to the Final Four. Look for Behanan to continue to dominate the inside and As an undersized power forward, he needs to prove to NBA scouts he can compete in the paint and averaging double figure rebounds in America's premier basketball conference is the way to prove his point.

50-1 - Louisville football team goes undefeated 12-0
It's incredibly difficult to go undefeated over the course of an entire college football season. While this Louisville team will be the best group in six years, it is also still a very young team. There are only nine seniors on this team and while excitement is at an all-time high, this is a team that dropped home games to both FIU and Marshall. This could be a special year from Strong and the Cards, but fans shouldn't get carried away with hopes of a perfect season.

Over / Under
4.5 - Touchdowns by Louisville's defense and special teams
I'm going to take the over on this one. The Cards had four touchdowns last year, two defensive and two on special teams. The team returns all of its key playmakers and plans to play more aggressively in the upcoming season. Put me down for the over.

10 - Touchdowns by Devante Parker
Parker had six touchdowns as a true freshman last season. That's pretty incredible when you consider what a small role Parker played in most of the offensive game planning. Louisville offensive coordinator Shawn Watson has said he wants to make Parker a bigger part of the team's strategy, but 10 touchdowns is a big number to reach. I'll take the under on this one. Too much other talent at receiver for Parker to make all the big catches.

200 - Passing yards per game
Teddy Bridgewater averaged 163.8 yards passing per game a year ago en route to earning Freshman All-American honors. With a full year to learn Watson's system, a better comfort level and all of his key playmakers returning, I think 200 passing yard per game will easily be topped. Put me down for the over.

90 -Tackles by Preston Brown
Coach Strong wasn't shy about positioning Preston Brown as the leader of the Louisville defense. He racked up 84 tackles last season while sharing the linebacker spot light with Dexter Heyman. With Brown's move to middle linebacker, his numbers should only increase. Not only do I think he'll top 90 tackles, I wouldn't be surprised to see that number close to the century mark.

9.5 - Wins for Cardinal Football
Since the start of spring practice, I've said this team will go 10-2. I've seen nothing to dissuade me from that prediction yet. This team is good, but still very young and will surely slip up along the way. Still, to win 10 games in year three of the Strong era speaks volumes about how far this program has come since Strong took over.

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