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Old 11-17-2010, 05:06 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Forde: Time to adjust outlook for Butler

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Early-season rankings are often an exercise in erroneous assumption.

Cases in point this early college basketball season: Butler and Louisville.

The Bulldogs, coming off a national-darling run that ended in a two-point loss to Duke in the title game, were ranked 16th in the AP poll and 18th in the ESPN/USA Today poll this week.

The Cardinals, coming off an inglorious first-round exit in the NCAA tournament and missing all five starters from last season's inconsistent team, were nowhere to be found in the rankings. And I do mean nowhere. Forty-nine teams received votes in the AP and coaches polls. Louisville was not one of them.

Northwestern? Yes. Portland? Yes. Colorado? Yes.

Louisville? No.

But after a Yum!my debut in their opulent new arena Tuesday night, that complete absence from the national radar will change for the Cards. And after a Yuck!y performance wearing a burdensome bull's-eye, the ranking also will change for the Bulldogs.

The score was Louisville 88, Butler 73. And for much of the game, it wasn't that close. Louisville never trailed, led by as many as 24 early in the second half and maintained a double-digit lead for the final 24 minutes, 50 seconds.

It was Butler's largest margin of defeat since the 2006 Horizon League championship game. And it was the most points the tempo-master Bulldogs have allowed in regulation since 1999.

So we learned something at the Yum! Center. There is no reason to overreact to a single November outcome -- Butler will be a good team over the long haul, and Duke does not need to look over its shoulder at the Cardinals -- but there is reason to adjust the outlook.

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