Just 15 days ago, in TSL's college basketball midseason report, Louisville was my early favorite to capture the 2012-13 national championship.
Good call? Well, since then, Rick Pitino's Cardinals have dropped three of their past five games, including three consecutive games now for the first time since the 2010 squad that lost in the first round of the Big Dance. Louisville fell to unranked Georgetown Saturday, 53-51. That doesn't sound like a team poised to make a run, despite one of the most talented rosters in the country.
So … what the hell, Louisville?
The loss to Syracuse was down-to-the-worse and understandable, as the Orange can match up athletically and are led by one of the nation's top point guards, Michael Carter-Williams. But the nine-point Villanova loss stinks and Georgetown is good, but without its second-leading scorer (Greg Whittington is ineligible for academic reasons) Otto Porter should not be able to carry the Hoyas to a win there.
For one, the offense has completely fallen off the tracks since the Syracuse loss, shooting under 40 percent in back-to-back games. The Cardinals — with Russ Smith, Peyton Siva, Wayne Blackshear, Chane Behanan, etc. — are just too deep and talented to be scoring 64 points against mediocre defenses like 'Nova. Second of all … this list is about to get lengthy.
So you know what? Here's a list of some mediocre-to-below average major conference that have not suffered three-game losing streaks this season: 10-8 Clemson; 10-8 Wake Forest; 12-7 St. John's; 12-8 Northwestern; 10-9 Purdue; 11-8 Stanford. In other words, such losing streaks can and have been avoided by worse teams than Pitino's.
So let's leave it at this: Louisville is better than this three-game losing streak.
Not trying to kick a bird while it's down, but at the moment, the Cardinals do not look like they can go on the six-game run toward "One Shining Moment."
That will likely change (someone's midseason prediction would be laughable if not), but Pitino needs to get this squad back on track.