Insider knows you're hot for hoops over the summer, so we're bringing you a closer look at five programs on the rise, five on the way down and five at a crossroads. Today, we move on to five schools that are down from a year ago, beginning with Louisville. Tomorrow: UCLA.
31–6 (NCAA Tournament, Elite 8)
Even when a team runs 12 different players for an average of five minutes or more, losing two of them as NBA lottery picks is highly problematic. Since 2005, six teams have seen two of its stars selected in the same draft's top 14 picks. Only half of those teams returned to the NCAA Tournament the following season. None of them surpassed the second round. And it's not as though those programs were one-hit wonders, considering that list includes UCLA, Duke, UConn, Florida, Ohio State and North Carolina.
That note doesn't even consider the individual impact of the departed players. In Louisville's case, the future gets particularly dicey when you figure that Terrence Williams (New Jersey Nets, No. 11) and Earl Clark (Phoenix Suns, No. 14) ranked first and second on last season's team, respectively, in points, rebounds and assists. Moreover, they led the team far and away in those three categories, accounting for 36 percent of the scoring, 46 percent of the board work and 49 percent of the dimes.
After losses like that, it's hard not to see the Cards sliding back in 2009-10 after reaching the Elite Eight and capturing dual Big East titles. However, coach Rick Pitino believes a fresh face and a key returner could keep the Cards on the up and up.
To read Rick Pitino's thoughts on his latest crop of recruits, his take on the player he claims is the key to the season and Jay Bilas' analysis, you must be an ESPN Insider.