Louisville figures to be ranked no lower than third to start the college basketball season, but Lindy's has the Cards seventh.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky has a better freshman class this season than the Anthony Davis/Michael Kidd-Gilchrist recruiting class. Michigan State has four returning starters, and Tom Izzo has quality depth to maneuver around those guys.
If you tell me you are ranking the Wildcats and Spartans ahead of the University of Louisville for this college basketball season, I will not fuss.
But if you toss four more teams into the discussion before you finally recognize Rick Pitino's team as Number Seven, I will have to tell you why that is absurd, silly and simply wrong.
Lindy's Sports College Yearbook is absurd. Lindy's ranks Louisville seventh to start this season. Why?
These are the issues the magazine says the Cardinals must confront:
"Peyton Siva was stupid fast. Gorgui Dieng was scary strong. Their successors as point guard and rim defender will probably be better than just OK. But last year's team was special because elite players did elite things."
Rather than use stupid street talk like stupid fast, here is what I see when I look at Louisville:
Siva and Dieng will be difficult to replace. It will likely take several months for the Cardinals to figure everything out. Siva was as selfless as any U of L player I can remember. He didn't care how many points he scored. He didn't care about how many headlines he received. Dieng was also a team guy. They were great. Both of them.
But Pitino has the parts to replace Siva and Dieng. Both of them.
Montrezl Harrell has the bulk and the game to deliver around the rim. Chris Jones, Siva's replacement, is not your ordinary rookie. He knows the value of defense. He is not a freshman.
But those are the only two guys that must be replaced. Russ Smith returns as the most dynamic guard in the country. Luke Hancock can shoot with anybody. Chane Behanan can be an elite rebounder. Wayne Blackshear is finally healthy. Pitino has three or four other intriguing options.
Kentucky and Michigan State might be better than Louisville.
I would not rank the Cardinals' behind the teams that Lindy's ranks 3-though-6. Here are those teams:
3. Duke: The Blue Devils lost Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly and Seth Curry That's more than 47 points per game. Smells like more than Louisville lost – and I know that Duke freshman Jabari Parker has already been on the cover of Sports Illustrated once.
4. Kansas: The Jayhawks have great freshmen in Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid. They do not have great veterans.
5. North Carolina: The Tar Heels are due for a big year. But first I need to see Roy Williams resolve the P.J. Hairston mess. And it's a colossal mess.
6. Ohio State. I'm happy to see Lindy's rank the Buckeyes as the second best team in the Big Ten, ahead of Michigan. Most people don't see it that way. They're in love with the Wolverines. Sorry, Michigan will miss Trey Burke more than Ohio State will miss DeShaun Thomas.
The Buckeyes will be very good. But I think they're one scorer short of greatness.
*Lindy's also ranks the top players at every position. Here is where local guys were placed on the lists:
Point guard – Yogi Ferrell of Indiana sits at 19th. The top three are Marcus Smart of Oklahoma State, Aaron Craft of Ohio State and Kendall Williams of New Mexico. Kentucky's Andrew Harrison is named as a freshman of note.
Shooting guard – Lindy's likes Joe Harris of Virginia ahead of Russ Smith with Gary Harris of Michigan State third. Joe Harris is a nice player. He'll likely be a better pro. But as a college player, Joe Harris is not Russ Smith.
Wayne Blackshear also made this list at Number 11. James Young of Kentucky is a freshman of note.
Small forward – Hancock sits at Number 11, 13 spots ahead of Indiana senior Will Sheehey. The top three small forwards are Doug McDermott of Creighton, Glenn Robinson III of Michigan and North Carolina's Hairston.
Power forward – Two more Louisville players are on this list – Behanan at Number Seven and Harrell at 17th. Kentucky's Julius Randle is mentioned as the first freshman of note. The list is headlined by James Michael McAdoo of North Carolina, Mitch McGary of Michigan and Wichita State's Cleanthony Early.
Center – Lindy's likes Willie Cauley-Stein of Kentucky. He is ranked fifth – behind Adreian Payne of Michigan State, Alex Kirk of New Mexico, Juvonte Reddic of VCU and Isaiah Austin of Baylor. Dakari Johnson of UK is a freshman of note.