Led by Jordan Nwora, the Louisville Cardinals played well enough during the 2019-20 campaign to be one of the more interesting “what if” stories of this unfinished season.
The Louisville Cardinals certainly aren’t the only team wondering how far they could have gone once the coronavirus outbreak left the NCAA men’s basketball season unfinished, but they are one of a select group to think that they had a realistic shot at playing all the way through March.
That’s not to say that Louisville was peaking at the right time under second-year coach Chris Mack, as that definitely was not the case. Quite the opposite, in fact: The team stumbled badly down the stretch, losing four of its last seven games and briefly dipping to No. 15 in the AP poll for its lowest ranking of the season.
Instead, the hopes for the Cardinals were based mostly on the knowledge of how high they could fly. At the beginning of December, Louisville made it all the way to No. 1, partly because every other team that got the nod seemed to lose as soon as it reached the summit, but also on the strength of an impressive double-digit defeat of then-No. 4 Michigan in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
The Cardinals later went on a winning streak even longer than the 9-0 mark they compiled right out of the gate, but their inability to beat ranked teams became more pronounced as the calendar flipped from 2019 to 2020 — with one notable exception. Still, the thought of Jordan Nwora taking his game up another notch for a few weeks isn’t all that far-fetched, meaning Louisville could certainly have been a factor in the NCAA Tournament we’ll now never get to see.