Cards measure up to past NCAA champs

ITV compares the 2002-03 Cards to the 1980, 1986 and 1996 NCAA Champs in 17 statistical categories. And the 2003 Cards finished first or second in 12 of 17 categories. Lots more analysis and tidbits of each team.

Cards measure up to past NCAA Champs

The Cards are off to their best start in several years and are ranked highly in all the major polls.  With a national best 15 game winning streak to its credit, media and fan expectations continue to rise for this Cardinal team.

So we've decided to find out just how good the 2002-03 Cards stack up against Louisville's National Championship teams of 1980 and 1986 and Coach Rick Pitino's only National Championship team at Kentucky in 1996.

It's important to note that the 1980 and 1986 teams did not benefit offensively from the three point line and that fact surely impacted both scoring and field goal percentage differences between them and the 1996 and 2003 teams.

However, by comparing the numbers from three championship teams to the current group, we can get some kind of indication of where this team stacks up against those that have hung banners in the rafters.

And it may surprise some but the 2002-03 Cards are superior to all three championship teams in terms of opponents points per game (65.1), opponent field goal percentage (.396) and opponent 3 point field goal percentage (.276), statistically speaking.

Offensively, the 2002-03 Cards compare favorably as well.  This years team commits fewer turnovers per game (13.7), and makes the most three point field goals per game (8.5).  At 84.6 points per contest, the 2002-03 Cards rank second behind Pitino's 1996 offensive juggernaut and it's .721 free throw percentage is second only behind the 1986 NCAA Championship team (.733).

The 2002-03 Cards 19.5 margin of victory is second only to the 1996 UK team and it's 5 blocked shots per game are only .5 less than the Pervis Ellison led 1986 team.

All told, the 2002-03 Cards are first or second in 12 of the 17 statistical categories compared.  So with that in mind, I'll pose the obvious question to you.

Are the 2002-03 Louisville Cardinals as good as the 1980, 1986 and 1996 National Championship teams?  And can this team hang NCAA banner number 3 in Freedom Hall this April?

Here's a look at the statistical comparison.  Remember, numbers don't lie!

Stat 1980 1986 UK 1996 2003 Differ
Games 36 39 37 17 TBD
PPG 76.9 79.4 91.4 84.6 -6.8
Opp PPG 66.7 69.1 69.4 65.1 +1.6
W Margin 10.2 10.3 22 19.5 -2.5
FG % .521 .531 .487 .484 -4.7
Opp FG % .462 .457 .415 .396 +1.9
3pt % NA NA .397 .370 -2.7
Opp 3pt % NA NA .337 .276 +6.1
3fg mpg NA NA 7.4 8.5 +1.1
FT % .686

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