|Has Louisville played its best basketball this year?. (US PRESSWIRE)|
By Jeff Goodman
I have said it all season. Louisville is overrated.
When the Cards rose all the way to No. 4 in the rankings, it was clear to just about everyone outside of Louisville that the Cards did not belong in the same class with the Kentucky's, North Carolina's, Ohio State's and Syracuse's of the world.
They had reeled off a dozen straight, but had only ventured out of the Yum! Center once - against a Butler team that is still trying to find itself. It was fool's gold. This is an solid Louisville team, maybe one that that win a couple games in the NCAA tournament - or maybe one that will be one and done, as was the case last season.
Russ Smith gave Rick Pitino's team hope when he nearly single-handedly kept Louisville competitive at Rupp, but this team is a fringe Top 25 club these days in terms of pure talent.
They can't shoot - and they aren't nearly as efficient defensively as the numbers indicated through the team's first 12 games of the season. In the four losses -- which have all came in the past five games -- the Cardinals are shooting just 27 percent from beyond the arc.
Pitino's team got crushed on the glass against Kentucky -- but there's no shame in that. But Louisville also lost the battle on the glass to Georgetown and allowed a lackluster Providence frontline to dominate.
Kadeem Batts went for 27 points.
Yes, Kadeem Betts.
Russ Smith has been a non-factor in the last couple of games, there's been virtually no production from the bench -- and after a home date against DePaul, Pitino & Co. will head out on the road for games against Marquette and Pittsburgh.
The Cards could well be 2-5 seven games into league play.
It just goes to show how quickly things can change -- especially in the Big East.
We ranked Louisville in the Top 10 of the preseason with the thought that the Cards would have the prize of their recruiting class, Wayne Blackshear. However, the Illinois native has been out with a shoulder injury and it's anyone's guess when -- and if -- he'll return to the court.
Even if Blackshear does come back, it's difficult to ask a guy who hasn't played a game in eight months and is a true freshman to make an impact this season.
So, what you see is probably what you'll get -- and that's a decent Louisville team.