Louisville cements top ranking with shutdown of No. 4 Michigan, takes shot at NCAA in the process

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor
It was a good day for Louisville. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
It was a good day for Louisville. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

If the first month of the college basketball season was defined by anything, it was the inability of teams to hold onto the No. 1 ranking of the AP poll.

Michigan State started there in preseason ... then immediately lost to Kentucky to open the season. Kentucky assumed the top spot the next week ... then immediately lost to unranked Evansville. Duke took the spot simply by being the Champions Classic team that had not lost yet ... and kept the spot for a whole week ... then soon lost to Stephen F. Austin.

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College basketball, everybody.

Now, it’s undefeated Louisville who has taken the No. 1 ranking, topping the AP poll on Monday. Before Tuesday, the Cardinals hadn’t played any teams of note, they simply went undefeated while every team ahead of them fell. If their performance against their first ranked opponent of the season is any judge, the Cardinals might stay in the No. 1 spot a while longer.

Louisville dominates Michigan in top-five matchup

Louisville’s first big opponent of the season was a team that had its own argument for the top spot. No. 4 Michigan had the best résumé in the country after a very good week in the Bahamas.

Faced with that challenge, head coach Chris Mack’s team responded by holding the Wolverines to single-digit scoring until there were four minutes remaining in the first half, then running away with a 58-43 win.

Louisville forward Jordan Nwora led the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds, while center Stephen Enoch also chipped in a double-double.

It was a brutal offensive game — the two teams combined to shoot 31.4 from the field — but that’s the kind of environment that Louisville loves to create and thrive in.

With Michigan firmly handled, it should be relatively smooth sailing for Louisville until a Dec. 28 game against rival Kentucky. Of course, we all know how No. 1 teams have fared in calm waters so far this year.

Louisville completes night with unsubtle shot at NCAA

No perfect night in Louisville is complete without going after the NCAA for stripping the Cardinals’ 2013 national championship, and the program did its part with a very interesting banner unveiled on Tuesday.

Thanks to a settlement from a lawsuit against the NCAA over the vacating of Louisville’s title, the asterisk next to former Cardinal Luke Hancock’s Most Outstanding Player from the 2013 NCAA tournament was officially removed.

That led to Louisville hanging a banner honoring Hancock’s achievement, even as its championship banner remains in storage.

Louisville great Darrell Griffith then played to the crowd and used Hancock’s banner to shout out the whole 2013 team.

Now on track to stay at No. 1, we’ll see if Louisville has any more banners to raise in the near future.

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