Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky are the early preseason favorites to win the 2012-13 NCAA basketball title. Does Montrezl Harrell's late addition give Rick Pitino's Cards an edge over the Hoosiers and Wildcats in the hunt for the national championship?
InsideTheVille.com posed that question to Jeff Goodman, college basketball columnist at CBSSports.com, shortly after Harrell's commitment to UofL Monday.
"The more I look at it it's a complete toss up between Louisville, Indiana and Kentucky. In every positional matchup between those three it's pretty close," Goodman said. "Personally, I think I would make Louisville No. 1. The difference to me is two-fold: I think they have more quality depth, so they can withstand an injury better than the other two programs, and Rick Pitino, who I feel is the best X and O's out of the three."
Besides Louisville's depth advantage - the Cardinals can go at least two-deep at every position -- Goodman believes the experience factor gives the Cardinals another key advantage over Indiana and Kentucky, which lost its top six players to the NBA Draft. Louisville returns three starters, plus adds transfer Luke Hancock, a two-year starter at George Mason.
"Indiana and Kentucky don't have Louisville's level of experience," said Goodman. "They've [UofL] got [seven] years experience in their starting five."
With most of the key parts back from a 30-win team that won the Big East Tournament and advanced to the Final Four, Goodman thinks next season will be Pitino's best chance to cut the nets down at Louisville since taking over for Denny Crum 11 years ago.
"I do because of the landscape," said Goodman. "It's not that Louisville is all-powerful and loaded with pros. I don't know if they have a can't miss NBA guy. There's probably no lottery picks. But in today's college basketball landscape this is Rick Pitino's best chance to win a title."