Louisville Cardinals

2014-15 record: 27-9, 12-6 in the ACC (Elite Eight)

Head coach: Rick Pitino

Tenure at Louisville: 15th Season

Career coaching record: 722-254

Home court: KFC YUM! Center

Starters: G Quentin Snider, G Damion Lee, G Trey Lewis, F Chinanu Onuaku, C Mangok Mathiang

Bench: G Donovan Mitchell, F Deng Adel, C Anas Mahmoud, F Jaylen Johnson

Overview: Despite finishing last season with a respectable run in the NCAA tournament, Louisville has fallen from grace and out of the preseason top 25.

A large part of this has to do with the departures of Terry Rozier, Montrezl Harrell and Wayne Blackshear. The trio, at times, was among the most explosive in college basketball, though they failed to gel consistently and dropped six ACC games as a result a year ago. But even with erratic results, that core still provided the Cardinals with a sense of constant hope if not only for their sheer amount of talent. This year’s squad will not be granted such a commodity.

Still, all is not lost for Pitino’s squad. Graduate transfer guards Damion Lee and Trey Lewis will step in and lead the Cardinal backcourt alongside returnee Quentin Snider, who had a big finish to the 2014-15 campaign, scoring in double-figures in four of his last six games. The play of this new trio will determine whether or not the Louisville offense is effective, as the remaining players on the team all either lack, or have yet to show, an ability to score consistently.

Added to the pressure of establishing a fresh team core is the fact that Louisville is currently mired in controversy, this time formed by former assistant coach Andre McGee and former escort Katina Powell. In her book “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” Powell details events in which McGee helped set up and pay for her and her cohorts to dance and perform sexual acts for Louisville recruits. The NCAA is currently looking into the situation, and should they decide to take action, a dark cloud will hang over the rest of the Cardinals’ season and call into question Pitino’s future in the sport.

One thing that needs to go right: Snider plays aggressively as he did during last season’s NCAA tournament, in which he posted three straight double-digit games to help lead Louisville to the Elite Eight.

One thing that could go wrong: Snider, Lee and Lewis can’t handle the ACC’s touted backcourts, leaving the scoring burden to the Cardinals’ offensively-challenged frontcourt .