Jared Predicts Fall Sports Outcomes
We are 10 days away from seeing the first of the fall sports play on Floyd Street. Women's soccer opens their regular season next Thursday against Indiana State. Field hockey will have an early afternoon scrimmage against Bellarmine the next day. The volleyball Red and Black scrimmage follows suit the next day.
It's time to stir the pot and spark debate as we approach the respective seasons, I'll predict the outcomes of each season.
ACC: 4-6 ACC
Women's soccer has had some struggles and difficulties over the last several years, especially with offensive production. They do have a fairly easy non-conference schedule. None of this year's non-conference opponents finished last season ranked.
Women's soccer has already been engaged in a scrimmage this season...falling 2-1 at Miami (Ohio).
The ACC is the premiere women's soccer conference. Five of the top six teams in the final polls last year hailed from the ACC and the conference had seven in the top 25 total. Not too many teams finished worse in the conference than Louisville, but the Cards do get to see a few of them on the schedule.
The ACC only takes the top six teams for the conference tournament, which I'm sadly predicting the Cards don't qualify for and their overall record and RPI isn't enough to get them into the NCAA Tournament.
Post-Season: ACC semifinals, NCAA Elite Eight
Justine Sowry doesn't schedule an easy non-conference slate just because the ACC schedule is brutal. Instead, she makes it equally as tough with the mindset of getting better or losing. They'll have one of the top strength of schedules in the country again.
The Cards only have a couple of non-conference matches that are assumed wins.... but many of the matches are at home and Louisville has a knack for winning at Trager Stadium.
ACC play is as challenging as can be. Six of the seven ACC schools finished in the top 25 last season with the sole outlier finishing 30th in the RPI.
One win in the ACC Tournament (minus the 1-seed who gets a first round bye) gets you to the quarterfinals and three total wins earns you the crown. The top seed needs two wins to take the title. Louisville is more than capable of getting at least one win in the ACC Tournament.
An 18-team NCAA tournament makes it difficult to even qualify. Nine spots are automatic qualifiers and nine are at-large bids. There are two "play-in" games where the winners face the top two seeds in the bracket. Outside of those two games, any other team would need three wins to win the championship, so asking the Cards to win one game to advance to the quarterfinals (Elite Eight) seems more than fair to expect.
Post-Season: T-1st in ACC with Pitt, NCAA Final Four
Coming off a National Runner-Up finish and back-to-back Final Fours puts high expectations on this season. With a good chunk of the talent returning and all paid coaches from last year back on the sidelines, expecting a strong year should come as no surprise. There are a couple key pieces from last year's team that Louisville has to fill that can be the "it" factor with another great year. Dani Busboom Kelly has won over the hearts of Louisville fans in her first six seasons and this program has full faith she will continue to build on that success.
Louisville faces some stiff competition in the non-conference part of the season. Fortunately, many of those matches are at home and some are at the KFC Yum! Center. Anyone remember the turnout against a subpar Notre Dame team on a Wednesday night or the two matches against Baylor and Oregon in the NCAA Tournament? Give me 8,000-10,000 fans for a home court advantage.
ACC play seems to be Louisville and Pitt vs the rest of the field still. There might be a couple teams make a surprise run in conference play but it's still the formers' to lose. It's hard to imagine Louisville not finishing top two in the conference and with recent experience and success with some home court advantage possibilities, another Final Four appearance is easily doable.
Let us know your thoughts on how these fall teams will fare this season. Do you have higher expectations or lower? Do we see our first women's team at Louisville win a national championship?
Feel free to leave your thoughts and observations in the comments section. Or leave them bundled up on a doorstep with a note saying free to good home. Or tell them to that annoying cousin who has a contrary opinion to anything that is said...after all, today is National Dying to Know Day.
Happy Tuesday and Go Cards!