Louisville improved to 5-0 on Saturday night with a 77-57 win over Saint Louis in the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center.
Despite the unblemished record after the first month of the season, the Cardinals find themselves outside of the top-25 in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls. According to Jeff Greer of the Courier-Journal, head coach Rick Pitino believes that because of the ongoing investigation into allegations made against the program by former escort Katina Powell.
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“I think people are looking at that and they're not really studying the team,” Pitino said Saturday after his team's 77-57 win over Saint Louis at the Barclays Center here in Brooklyn, N.Y.
In early October, Powell published the book entitled “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen,” a tell-all which alleged that former Louisville staff member Andre McGee paid Powell $10,000 over a four-year period to provide escorts for private parties for Louisville players and recruits. McGee later resigned from his assistant coaching position at UMKC, a job he left Louisville for in 2014.
Pitino told reporters after the game that the distractions from this scandal have overshadowed the Cardinals play on the floor. But Louisville hasn't exactly gone through murderers' row to get to 5-0. For reference, only two of Louisville's wins have come against teams projected to finish in the top half of their respective conferences (North Florida and Saint Francis Brooklyn).
Of course, Louisville can still crack the rankings as early as this week. They received plenty of votes in each poll and spots in the top-25 will be available with teams like Indiana and Wichita State destined to drop out. And if not this week, maybe the week after, as Louisville will get a chance to earn a statement win on Wednesday on the road against No. 3 Michigan State.