University of Louisville men’s basketball coach Chris Mack and his team will face a challenging schedule in his initial season with the Cardinals, which is evident with the non-conference slate of opponents announced for the 2018-19 season.
“My former boss and mentor, the late Skip Prosser, once remarked ‘You can’t sharpen your teeth just by eating oatmeal. You have to eat some raw meat now and then’,” said Mack. “Well, our choppers better be sharp with the challenge that awaits us. It’s what Louisville Basketball is all about. We wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Nine of the Cardinals’ 13 non-conference opponents won at least 18 games last season, with eight participating in post-season competition. Louisville has faced a schedule among the top 16 toughest by the ratings percentage index in nine of the past 11 seasons, including the nation’s 10th-toughest last year.
Including the Cardinals’ 18-game ACC schedule, 22 of the Cardinals’ 31 games will be played against teams that participated in post-season competition last season, including at least 16 from the 2018 NCAA Tournament field (NCAA Tournament: Clemson, Duke, Florida State, possibly Kansas, Kentucky, Lipscomb, Miami, Michigan State, North Carolina twice, NC State, Seton Hall, Syracuse, possibly Tennessee, Virginia twice, Virginia Tech; NIT: Boston College twice, possibly Marquette, Notre Dame, Vermont; College Basketball Invitational: Central Arkansas). Twenty-three of the Cardinals’ games will be played against teams that won at least 18 games last season.
Eleven possible UofL opponents are ranked among the CBS Sports way-too-early top 25, including non-conference foes No. 1 Kentucky, No. 2 Kansas (a possible opponent), No. 4 Tennessee (a possible opponent), No. 11 Michigan State and No. 25 Indiana.
Including a pair of exhibition games against local teams, 11 of the Cardinals’ 15 non-conference games will be played at home in the KFC Yum! Center, UofL’s spectacular 22,000-seat home arena. The Cardinals will face their first outside competition in an exhibition game on Oct. 28 in the KFC Yum! Center against 2018 NCAA Division II regional finalist Bellarmine, a team coached by former UofL assistant Scott Davenport. Simmons College of Kentucky, an NCCAA Division II school in Louisville which is coached by former UofL player and assistant coach Jerry Eaves, will provide the opposition in UofL’s second home exhibition game on Nov. 3.
The Cardinals officially open their 2018-19 season on Nov. 8 against Nicholls State in the KFC Yum! Center, marking the earliest season opener in UofL history.
UofL opens its four games in the NIT Season Tip-Off with its first two early round, non-bracketed games at home in the event against Southern on Nov. 13 and Vermont on Nov. 16. The NIT Season Tip-Off venue moves to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. for Thanksgiving week as the Cardinals will face Tennessee, Kansas or Marquette on Nov. 21 in one of two games of the doubleheader. The third place and championship games of the event will be played on Nov. 23 in the Barclays Center.
Louisville returns home to play Michigan State in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 27. The Cardinals open the month of December with their first true road game of the year on Dec. 1 against Seton Hall, a team coached by former UofL assistant coach Kevin Willard. UofL will return home to face Central Arkansas on Dec. 5 before visiting Indiana on Dec. 8.
The Cardinals will play their next four straight at home, beginning with Lipscomb on Dec. 12, Kent State on Dec. 15, Robert Morris on Dec. 21, and intrastate foe Kentucky on Dec. 29 in the final game of 2018.
Louisville’s ACC schedule will include a challenging slate of 18 games, with dates expected to be finalized in early September. In UofL’s fifth year in the 15-team league, the Cardinals’ home ACC opponents will consist of Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Miami, Notre Dame, North Carolina, NC State, Pittsburgh and Virginia. UofL’s nine league road games will be at Boston College, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.
The ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament will be staged at the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C. on March 12-16.
Louisville will be entering a new era this season under the direction of Mack, who guided Xavier to a 215-97 and eight NCAA Tournament appearances in nine seasons with the Musketeers. Last season, the Cardinals posted a 22-14 record and reached the quarterfinals of the National Invitation Tournament. Eight lettermen return for the Cardinals including junior guard V.J. King, a starter last season who is UofL’s top returning scorer (8.6 ppg). Louisville is one of just three Power 5 schools that have received an Academic Performance Rate Public Recognition Award in each of the last six years, including posting a perfect score four of the last five years.
October 28: Bellarmine exhibition (KFC Yum! Center)
November 3: Simmons exhibition (KFC Yum! Center)
November 8: Nicholls State (KFC Yum! Center)
November 13: Southern NIT (KFC Yum! Center)
November 16: Vermont NIT (KFC Yum! Center)
November 21: Tennessee, Kansas or Marquette (Barclays Center)
November 23: NIT Season Tip-Off (Barclays Center)
November 27: Michigan State ACC/Big Ten Challenge (KFC Yum! Center)
December 1: @ Seton Hall
December 5: vs. Central Arkansas (KFC Yum! Center)
December 8: @ Indiana
December 12: Lipscomb (KFC Yum! Center)
December 15: Kent State (KFC Yum! Center)
December 21: Robert Morris (KFC Yum! Center)
December 29: Kentucky (KFC Yum! Center)