Louisville women's basketball hasn't looked like the Final Four contender they were a year ago. Hailey Van Lith once said "we're gonna win this shit" but weeks into her junior campaign, Cardinals fans aren't so sure.
After losing three starters from a year ago including lottery pick Emily Engstler and second-leading scorer Kianna Smith, Louisville is looking for answers past their point guard.
In an overtime loss to unranked Gonzaga, just two additional players scored in double figures, and the team made 3-of-16 3-pointers. In an even shakier loss to unranked South Dakota State, no player scored more than seven points while Van Lith poured in 26.
The Cards were once a preseason No. 7 team, but have since dropped to No. 18. Now they're up against an Ohio State team that looks like the real deal.
Ohio State hasn't come closer than a 12-point win — and that was against No. 5 Tennessee. Albeit against mostly inferior opponents, the Buckeyes have put teams away, knocking off McNeese by 56 points.
Senior Rebeka Mikulasikova has taken a senior year leap, scoring 17.7 points per game on 62.7% shooting from the field and 9-of-21 3-pointers on the season.
It's so early in the year that Louisville can come back from a third November 'L' but it'll sting. It's possible Louisville falls out of the top-25.
More worrisome for Jeff Walz's team is the lack of a top-ranked team in sight. Thankfully, Louisville took an eight-point win against No. 3 Texas between the two unranked losses, but they won't see another elite opponent until January 12 at Virginia Tech.
Everyone, and that includes Van Lith. But Louisville needs more from Florida State transfer Morgan Jones and junior Olivia Cochran, too. Jones poured in 28 points against Louisville a season ago, and though she came up big against Texas, she's gone missing in between.
The talent is there. It just needs to mesh.
At Fanduel, both Louisville and Ohio State hold +3000 (bet $10 to win $30) odds to win the NCAA Tournament, but game lines are not available. DraftKings has matchup odds available, with Louisville (-1.5) as the favorite to win. A bet on the Cardinals would cash if they won the game by two or more points.