Louisville Cardinals men's basketball

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Louisville Cardinals men's basketball
2022–23 Louisville Cardinals men's basketball team
Louisville Cardinals wordmark.svg
UniversityUniversity of Louisville
First season1911
All-time record1,882*–933 (.669)
Athletic directorJosh Heird
Head coachKenny Payne (1st season)
LocationLouisville, Kentucky
ArenaKFC Yum! Center (2010–present)
(Capacity: 22,090)
Freedom Hall (1956–2010)
(Capacity: 18,865)
Student section"The Ville'ns"
ColorsRed and black[1]
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Home jersey
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Team colours
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Away jersey
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Team colours
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Alternate jersey
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Team colours
NCAA tournament champions
1980, 1986, 2013*
NCAA tournament Final Four
1959, 1972, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986, 2005, 2012*, 2013*
NCAA tournament Elite Eight
1959, 1972, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1997, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2012*, 2013*, 2015*
NCAA tournament Sweet Sixteen
1951, 1959, 1961, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2012*, 2013*, 2014*, 2015*
NCAA tournament appearances
1951, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012*, 2013*, 2014*, 2015*, 2017, 2019
Conference tournament champions
1928, 1929, 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 2003, 2005, 2009, 2012*, 2013*, 2014*
Conference regular season champions
1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994, 2005, 2009, 2013*, 2014*
*Appearances Vacated by NCAA, along with 123 wins

The Louisville Cardinals men's basketball team is the men's college basketball program representing the University of Louisville (U of L) in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) of NCAA Division I. The Cardinals have officially won two NCAA championships in 1980 and 1986 (with the 2013 title being vacated); and have officially been to 8 Final Fours (with the 2012 and 2013 appearances being vacated) in 39 official NCAA tournament appearances while compiling 61 tournament wins.[2][3]

On March 18, 2022, it was announced that the University of Louisville signed Kenny Payne to a six-year contract as head coach.[4]


"Peck" Hickman era (1944–1967)[edit]

Bernard "Peck" Hickman's 1944 team finished with a 16–3 record and started a string of 46 consecutive winning seasons, which was an NCAA record.[5]

Men's basketball team, 1914, CN Caldwell, captain
U of L winning percentage by year
U of L all-time wins/losses graph

Hickman led Louisville to its first championship on a national level by winning the NAIB tournament in 1948.[6] In 1956, led by All-American Charlie Tyra, the Cardinals won the NIT Championship.[7] In 1956 his team was placed on two years probation, to include bans on postseason play, by the NCAA due to recruiting violations.[8] In 1959, Louisville made its first NCAA Final Four appearance behind the play of All-American Don Goldstein.

The Cardinals never had a losing season in Hickman's 23 seasons as head coach.[9] He coached 11 20-win teams, appeared in five NCAA tournaments, coached six NIT appearances and finished with a 443–183 overall record, a .708 winning percentage that ranks him in the top 45 all time.

John Dromo (1967–1971)[edit]

John Dromo was Hickman's assistant for 17 years and succeeded him at head coach in 1967. In four seasons as head coach, Dromo led the Cardinals to a 68–23 record (.747 winning percentage) and the 1967 Missouri Valley Conference title.

A heart attack during the 1970–71 season forced Dromo to retire. His assistant, Howard Stacey, was named interim head coach for the final 20 games of the season.[10]

Denny Crum era (1971–2001)[edit]

Denny Crum was hired as head coach from his alma mater, UCLA, where he was the top assistant coach to John Wooden. It was under the guidance of Crum that Louisville became a college basketball power. In his first season, he guided the Cardinals to the NCAA Final Four, becoming the first coach ever to go to a Final Four in his first season as a head coach. Overall, Crum had six Final Fours with the Cardinals (1972, 1975, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1986). He is fifth all-time in Final Four appearances.[11]

The Cardinals won the 1980 NCAA tournament championship by defeating UCLA 59–54. Six years later, Louisville would overcome Duke 72–69 for a second title. Crum is one of only 11 coaches to win two or more national championships.[12] He was named National Coach of the Year in 1980, 1983 and 1986.

He took the Cardinals to 23 NCAA tournaments, where they had an overall record of 43–21. While in the Metro Conference, the Cardinals won 12 regular season titles and 11 tournament championships. In its 19 years of naming a champion, the Metro had Louisville as first or second place 17 times. In 1993, Crum became the second fastest coach to reach 500 wins.[13]

Crum was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 1994. He retired in 2001 with a career record of 675–295 (.696 winning percentage) over 30 seasons. He was a member of the College Basketball Hall of Fame's inaugural class in 2006.

Rick Pitino era (2001–2017)[edit]

Rick Pitino was hired in 2001 after four years as head coach of the Boston Celtics, and previously as head coach of Louisville's in-state rival, Kentucky.[14]

Pitino guided the Cardinals to the NCAA Tournament in 12 of 15 seasons, reaching the Elite Eight six times and the Final Four three times (2005, 2012, and 2013). His teams won six conference tournament championships and four regular season titles. The Cardinals won at least 20 games every season since Pitino's first season at Louisville. Through the 2015–16 season, Pitino amassed a record of 391–134 (.745) during his time at Louisville.

Pitino was selected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013,[15] and was under contract through the 2025–26 season.[16]

The University of Louisville self-imposed a postseason ban for the 2015–16 season amid an ongoing NCAA investigation over an escort sex scandal involving recruits between 2010 and 2014. The ban included both the ACC tournament and the NCAA tournament.[17][18]

On June 15, 2017, the NCAA charged Rick Pitino for failure to monitor his basketball program which was involved in a sex-for-pay scandal. He was suspended for the first five games of the ACC season in 2017–18.[19]

On September 26, 2017, federal prosecutors in New York announced that the school was under investigation for an alleged "pay for play" scheme involving recruits at Louisville.[20][21] The allegations state that an Adidas executive conspired to pay $100,000 to the family of a top-ranked national recruit to play at Louisville and to represent Adidas when he turned pro.[20][22] The criminal complaint did not name Louisville specifically but appeared to involve the recruitment of Brian Bowen, a late, surprise commit to the school.[23][24] On September 27, 2017, Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were placed on administrative leave.[25]

On October 26, 2017, Rick Pitino was fired as the head coach of Louisville Men's Basketball.[26]

On February 20, 2018, the NCAA ruled that Louisville must vacate its records from 2011 to 2015. This included 123 wins, the 2013 NCAA title, and a 2012 Final Four appearance.[27]

Chris Mack era (2018–2022)[edit]

On March 27, 2018, Xavier head coach Chris Mack agreed to terms on a seven-year contract worth about $4 million annually to become the next head coach at Louisville.[28] Louisville was the first ever school to hire away a head coach whose previous team was a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Mack had a notable start to his Louisville tenure, recruiting a top-5 2019 class that included a 5-star player, four 4-star players, and a three-star player. Picked to finish 11th in the 2018 preseason ACC poll, Mack led the Cardinals to a 20–14 season peaking at #15 in the AP polls and finishing in seventh place in the ACC standings with signature wins over #9 Michigan State, #12 North Carolina, and #11 Virginia Tech and tough losses to #5 Tennessee, Marquette, #22 Florida State, and #2 Duke. Under Mack, Louisville made only one NCAA tournament appearance.[29][30][31]

On January 26, 2022, Louisville and Chris Mack mutually agreed to part ways.

Kenny Payne era (2022-present)[edit]

Kenny Payne ended his first season with the worst record in modern times for any Louisville team, finishing the season 4–28.[32]

Notable achievements[edit]

As of the end of the 2015–16 season, Louisville had an all-time 1778–892 record in 102 seasons of intercollegiate basketball ranking 10th in all-time victories and seventh in all-time winning percentage among NCAA Division I schools. From 1944 to 1990, Louisville had an NCAA-record 46 straight winning seasons, winning 20 or more games on 31 occasions during that period.

Louisville has made 42 NCAA Tournament appearances (5th all-time) and 15 NIT appearances. The Cardinals have reached the NCAA Tournament 32 of the last 40 years (12 of the last 15, 14 of the last 18 years, 20 of last 25). Since the NCAA began keeping Sweet Sixteen appearance records in 1975, Louisville's 21 Sweet Sixteens are 5th all-time behind North Carolina (26), Kentucky (25), Duke (24), and Kansas (22). The Cardinals have reached the Elite Eight on 14 occasions, including five of the past nine seasons. Louisville is sixth in tournament victories (75) with a 75–41 overall NCAA Tournament record, reaching the Final Four 10 times.

Louisville is the only school in the nation to have claimed the championship of three major national post-season tournaments including the 1948 NAIA championship, the 1956 NIT title and the 1980 1986 and 2013 NCAA championships. Simultaneously, Louisville is the only school in NCAA history to have a Men's Basketball National Championship vacated, along with 2 Final Four appearances.

By the numbers[edit]


Tradition Number National rank
All-time NCAA Tournament titles 2* t-9th
All-time NCAA Tournaments 39* 8th
All-time NCAA Tournament Wins 61* 6th
All-time NCAA Final Fours 8* 8th
All-time victories 1759* 26th[34]
All-time winning percentage .652* 11th[34]
  • NCAA vacated all wins from 2011 to 2015

Post-season results[edit]

National championships[edit]

1948 NAIA Tournament Championship[edit]

1948 NAIA Tournament Results
Round Opponent Score
First Round South Dakota State 63–60
Sweet Sixteen Emporia State 82–66
Elite Eight Beloit 85–76
Final Four Xavier 56–49
Championship Indiana State 82–70

1956 NIT Championship[edit]

1956 NIT Tournament Results
Round Opponent Score
First Round Bye
Elite Eight Duquesne 84–72
Final Four Saint Joseph's 89–79
Championship Dayton 93–80

1980 NCAA Tournament Championship[edit]

1980 NCAA Tournament Results
Round Opponent Score
First Round Bye
Second Round Kansas State 71–69 OT
Sweet Sixteen Texas A&M 66–55 OT
Elite Eight LSU 86–66
Final Four Iowa 80–72
Championship UCLA 59–54

1986 NCAA Tournament Championship[edit]

1986 NCAA Tournament Results
Round Opponent Score
First Round Drexel 93–73
Second Round Bradley 82–56
Sweet Sixteen North Carolina 94–79
Elite Eight Auburn 84–76
Final Four LSU 88–77
Championship Duke 72–69

2013 NCAA Tournament Championship (Vacated)[edit]

2013 NCAA Tournament Results
Round Opponent Score
First Round North Carolina A&T 79–48
Second Round Colorado State 82–56
Sweet Sixteen Oregon 77–69
Elite Eight Duke 85–63
Final Four Wichita State 68–62
Championship Michigan 82–76

NCAA Tournament Final Four history[edit]

  • 1959– Fourth place
  • 1972– Fourth place
  • 1975– Third place
  • 1980– Champion
  • 1982– Semifinalist
  • 1983– Semifinalist
  • 1986– Champion
  • 2005–Semifinalist
  • 2012– Semifinalist - Vacated
  • 2013Champion - Vacated

NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player[edit]

NCAA tournament seeding history[edit]

The NCAA began seeding the tournament with the 1979 edition.

Years → '79 '80 '81 '82 '83 '84 '86 '88 '89 '90 '92 '93 '94 '95 '96 '97 '99
Seeds→ 3 2 4 3 1 5 2 5 4 4 8 4 3 11 6 6 7
Years → '00 '03 '04 '05 '07 '08 '09 '10 '11 '12 '13 '14 '15 '17 '19
Seeds→ 7 4 10 4 6 3 1* 9 4 4 1* 4 4 2 7

* – Overall number one seed. The committee began ranking 1 seeds in 2004.

Complete NCAA tournament results[edit]

The Cardinals have appeared in the NCAA tournament 39* (43) times. Their combined record is 61–44* (76–44).

* – NCAA vacated all wins from 2011 to 2015.

Year Seed Round Opponent Result
1951 Sweet Sixteen Kentucky L 68–79
1959 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
National 3rd Place Game
Eastern Kentucky
Michigan State
West Virginia
W 77–63
W 76–61
W 88–81
L 79–94
L 85–98
1961 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Regional 3rd Place Game
Ohio State
Morehead State
W 76–70
L 55–56
W 83–61
1964 First Round Ohio L 69–71 OT
1967 Sweet Sixteen
Regional 3rd Place Game
L 81–83
L 68–70
1968 Sweet Sixteen
Regional 3rd Place Game
Kansas State
L 75–91
W 93–63
1972 Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
National 3rd Place Game
Southwest Louisiana
Kansas State
North Carolina
W 88–84
W 72–65
L 77–96
L 91–105
1974 Sweet Sixteen
Regional 3rd Place Game
Oral Roberts
L 93–96
L 71–80
1975 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
National 3rd Place Game
W 91–78
W 78–63
W 96–82
L 74–75 OT
W 96–88 OT
1977 First Round UCLA L 79–87
1978 First Round
Sweet Sixteen
St. John's
W 76–68
L 89–90 2OT
1979 #3 Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
#6 South Alabama
#2 Arkansas
W 69–66
L 62–73
1980 #2 Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
National Championship
#7 Kansas State
#6 Texas A&M
#1 LSU
#5 Iowa
W 71–69 OT
W 66–55 OT
W 86–66
W 80–72
W 59–54
1981 #4 Second Round #5 Arkansas L 73–74
1982 #3 Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
#11 Middle Tennessee
#2 Minnesota
#4 UAB
#1 Georgetown
W 81–56
W 67–61
W 75–68
L 46–50
1983 #1 Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
#8 Tennessee
#4 Arkansas
#3 Kentucky
#1 Houston
W 70–57
W 65–63
W 80–68 OT
L 81–94
1984 #5 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
#12 Morehead State
#4 Tulsa
#1 Kentucky
W 72–59
W 69–67
L 67–72
1986 #2 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
National Championship
#15 Drexel
#7 Bradley
#3 North Carolina
#8 Auburn
#11 LSU
#1 Duke
W 93–73
W 82–68
W 94–79
W 84–76
W 88–77
W 72–69
1988 #5 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
#12 Oregon State
#4 BYU
#1 Oklahoma
W 70–61
W 97–76
L 98–108
1989 #4 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
#13 Arkansas–Little Rock
#5 Arkansas
#1 Illinois
W 76–71
W 93–84
L 69–83
1990 #4 First Round
Second Round
#13 Idaho
#12 Ball State
W 78–59
L 60–62
1992 #8 First Round
Second Round
#9 Wake Forest
W 81–58
L 69–85
1993 #4 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
#13 Delaware
#5 Oklahoma State
#1 Indiana
W 76–70
W 78–63
L 69–82
1994 #3 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
#14 Boise State
#6 Minnesota
#2 Arizona
W 67–58
W 60–55
L 70–82
1995 #11 First Round #6 Memphis L 56–77
1996 #6 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
#11 Tulsa
#3 Villanova
#2 Wake Forest
W 82–80 OT
W 68–64
L 59–60
1997 #6 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
#11 Massachusetts
#3 New Mexico
#10 Texas
#1 North Carolina
W 65–57
W 64–63
W 78–63
L 74–97
1999 #10 First Round #10 Creighton L 58–62
2000 #7 First Round #10 Gonzaga L 66–77
2003 #4 First Round
Second Round
#13 Austin Peay
#12 Butler
W 86–64
L 79–71
2004 #10 First Round #7 Xavier L 70–80
2005 #4 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
#13 Louisiana–Lafayette
#5 Georgia Tech
#1 Washington
#7 West Virginia
#1 Illinois
W 68–62
W 76–54
W 93–79
W 93–85 OT
L 57–72
2007 #6 First Round
Second Round
#11 Stanford
#3 Texas A&M
W 78–58
L 69–72
2008 #3 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
#14 Boise State
#6 Oklahoma
#2 Tennessee
#1 North Carolina
W 79–61
W 78–48
W 79–60
L 73–83
2009 #1 First Round
Second Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
#16 Morehead State
#9 Siena
#12 Arizona
#2 Michigan State
W 74–54
W 79–72
W 103–64
L 52–64
2010 #9 First Round #8 California L 62–77
2011 #4 Second Round #13 Morehead State L 61–62
2012* #4 Second Round
Third Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
New Mexico
Michigan State
W 69–62
W 59–56
W 57–44
W 72–68
L 61–69
2013* #1 Second Round
Third Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
Final Four
National Title
North Carolina A&T
Colorado State
Wichita State
W 79–48
W 82–56
W 77–69
W 85–63
W 72–68
W 82–76
2014* #4 Second Round
Third Round
Sweet Sixteen
#13 Manhattan
#5 Saint Louis
#8 Kentucky
W 71–64
W 66–51
L 69–74
2015* #4 Second Round
Third Round
Sweet Sixteen
Elite Eight
#13 UC Irvine
#5 Northern Iowa
#8 NC State
#7 Michigan State
W 57–55
W 66–53
W 75–65
L 70–76 OT
2017 #2 First Round
Second Round
#15 Jacksonville State
#7 Michigan
W 78–63
L 69–73
2019 #7 First Round #10 Minnesota L 76–86

Complete NIT results[edit]

The Cardinals have appeared in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) 15 times. Their combined record is 16–15. They were the 1956 NIT Champions.

Year Round Opponent Result
1952 First Round WKU L 59–62
1953 First Round
W 92–79
L 66–79
1954 First Round St. Francis (NY) L 55–60
1955 First Round
W 91–86
L 66–74
1956 Quarterfinals
Saint Joseph's
W 84–72
W 89–79
W 93–80
1966 First Round Boston College L 90–96
1969 First Round
Boston College
W 73–70
L 83–88
1970 First Round Oklahoma L 73–74
1971 First Round Providence L 58–64
1973 First Round
Notre Dame
W 97–84
L 71–79
1976 Quarterfinals Providence L 67–73
1985 First Round
Second Round
3rd Place Game
Alcorn State
South Florida
W 77–75
W 68–61
W 71–66
L 66–75
L 84–100
2002 First Round
Second Round
W 66–65
L 62–65
2006 First Round
Second Round
Delaware State
Missouri State
South Carolina
W 71–54
W 74–68
W 74–56
L 63–78
2018 First Round
Second Round
Northern Kentucky
Middle Tennessee
Mississippi State
W 66–58
W 84–68
L 56–79

Regular season conference championships[edit]

The Cardinals have won 23 conference regular season championships.

Since the 2014–15 season they have played in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Before that, they belonged to the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference from the 1925–26 to 1947–48 seasons, the Ohio Valley Conference for the 1948–49 season, the Missouri Valley Conference from 1964–65 to 1974–75, the Metro Conference from 1975–76 to 1994–95, Conference USA from 1995–96 to 2004–05, the Big East Conference from 2005–06 to 2012–13, and the American Athletic Conference in 2013–14.

They played as an independent school from 1911–12 to 1924–25 and from 1949–50 to 1963–64 (29 total seasons).

Missouri Valley Conference (7)
  • 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975[35]
Metro Conference (12)
  • 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994[36]
Conference USA (1)
  • 2005
Big East Conference (2)
  • 2009, 2013 (Vacated)
American Athletic Conference (1)
  • 2014

Conference tournament championships[edit]

The Cardinal have won 19 conference tournament championships.

Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament (2)
  • 1928, 1929
Metro Conference tournament (11)
  • 1978, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995[36]
Conference USA tournament (2)
  • 2003, 2005.
Big East Conference tournament (3)
  • 2009, 2012 (Vacated), 2013 (Vacated)
American Athletic tournament (1)


Kentucky Wildcats[edit]

The Kentucky–Louisville rivalry has been ranked the 2nd best rivalry in college basketball by Bleacher Report and 3rd best rivalry in all of college sports by Basketball Hall of Fame contributor Dick Vitale.[37] Kentucky and Louisville first played against each other in 1913 but stopped playing each other in the 1920s, playing only twelve times between 1913 and 1983. The rivalry was generally dormant with only occasional matchups until the teams met in the 1983 NCAA tournament. Since then, the two teams have met each year in late December or early January.

Much like the Iron Bowl, the Kentucky–Louisville rivalry is all the more intense because the two schools have consistently been among the nation's elite men's basketball teams for most of the last 50 years. Both schools are also two of the most victorious programs in NCAA men's basketball history; Kentucky is #1 on the list of all-time winningest programs in Division I Men's Basketball and Louisville #26 (#10 including vacated victories). Kentucky has eight national championships while Louisville has two (officially; three including the vacated 2013 title) national championships.

Cincinnati Bearcats[edit]

While predominantly a football rivalry, the proximity and long-standing conference affiliation of Cincinnati and Louisville made this into a key rivalry, particularly in the days of the Metro and Big East conferences. This rivalry went on hiatus in 2014 when Louisville left the American Athletic Conference for the ACC.

Notable Cardinals[edit]

Retired numbers[edit]

Charlie Tyra, Wes Unseld, and Darrell Griffith, whose numbers were retired by Louisville
Louisville Cardinals retired numbers
No. Player Pos. Tenure No. ret. Ref.
Russ Smith PG 2010–14 2022 [38]
Charlie Tyra PF 1954–57 [38]
Wes Unseld C 1966–68 [38]
Darrell Griffith SG 1977–80 [38]
Pervis Ellison C 1986–89 [38]

Louisville basketball has honored five former players by retiring their numbers. Except as noted, these are the last players to wear these numbers for a Louisville men's squad:

  • Charlie Tyra #8 – A consensus All-American during the 1956 and 1957 seasons, Charlie Tyra led the University of Louisville to its first NIT title in 1956 and was named the tournament's MVP for his performance. Tyra was named Helms Athletic Foundation All-American in his junior and senior years. One of only five Cardinals to record over 1,000 rebounds in his career, Tyra ranks as the all-time rebounder in U of L history with 1,617. During the 1955–56 season, Tyra pulled down 645 rebounds, a mark that has been bettered by only three other players in NCAA history. He set the Louisville record for most rebounds in a game when he pulled down 38 against Canisius during the 1955–56 season. In his four seasons with Louisville, he helped his teams to a combined record of 88–23 and three straight NIT appearances. Tyra ranks third in career free throws made (448), second in career rebounding average (17.0), fourth in career scoring average (18.2), eighth in career scorers (1,728 points) and eighth in field goals made (640). Tyra is one of only four players in UofL history to score 40 points or more in a game (achieved against Notre Dame when he hit 12 of 16 field goals and all 16 of his free throw attempts). Tyra died on December 29, 2006, at the age of 71. He was drafted #2 by in the Detroit Pistons in the 1957 NBA draft.
  • Wes Unseld #31 – When Wes Unseld ended his career with the University of Louisville following the 1967–68 season, he left as the Cardinals' all-time leading scorer for a three-year player. Today, Unseld ranks 10th on the all-time scoring list, but his career point total of 1,686 is still tops for a three-year player. A consensus All-American during his junior and senior years, Unseld is one of only five other Cardinal players to pull down over 1,000 rebounds in his career. His 1,551 career rebounds ranks second behind Tyra's 1,617. Unseld began his senior season with a 45-point effort against Georgetown College, a UofL record that still stands today. Unseld, chosen as second player overall in the NBA draft by Baltimore, was honored on the All-Missouri Valley Conference team all three years at UofL and the Cardinals were 60–22 during his three seasons. During his junior year, Unseld led the Cardinals to a final No. 2 ranking in both wire service polls. Unseld's 20.6 scoring average still ranks as the top scoring average in Louisville history. His 18.9 rebounding average also ranks as the top average for a Cardinal. While playing on the Cardinals' freshmen team, Unseld averaged 35.8 points and 23.6 rebounds, and hit 68.6 percent from the field.
  • Darrell Griffith #35 – The 1980 Player of the Year and consensus first team All-American led Louisville to four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, winning the 1980 Championship as he had promised when he committed to his hometown Cardinals. Griffith's career 2333 points and single-season 825 points rank first in Louisville history. He scored in double figures in 41 straight games and 111 of his 126 games with the Cardinals. His play earned him the nickname "Dr. Dunkenstein".[39] He was drafted #2 by the Utah Jazz in the 1980 NBA draft.
  • Pervis Ellison #42 – Ellison won the 1986 NCAA Tournament MOP award after leading the Cardinals to their second NCAA Tournament Championship. A consensus first team All-American in 1989, he is the only Louisville player to score 2000 points and grab 1000 rebounds in a career. His 374 career rejections rank first at Louisville and ranked Ellison third all time in the NCAA when he left in 1989. He was drafted #1 by the Sacramento Kings in the 1989 NBA draft.
  • Russ Smith #2 – Smith, the Cardinals' all-time steals leader with 275 and also fifth in career scoring with 1,908 points, was a consensus first-team All-American in 2013–14 after receiving third-team All-American honors from the National Association of Basketball Coaches and Sporting News in 2012–13, when the Cardinals won their since-vacated third national title. His number retirement ceremony was held at Louisville's January 22, 2022 home game against Notre Dame. The number is being worn by Sam Bearden in the 2021–22 season, but will not be issued in future seasons.

Cardinals in the Hall of Fame[edit]

Louisville has three representatives in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame: Cardinal All-American and former Washington Bullets All-Star Wes Unseld, who was inducted in 1988, former coach Denny Crum, who was inducted in 1994, and coach Rick Pitino, who was inducted in 2013. Darrell Griffith, a national player of the year and consensus All-American at the University of Louisville, is part of the 2014 induction class for the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame.

National Player of the Year awards[edit]


Twenty one Louisville players have earned 25 All American selections. 7 players received 8 consensus All-American selections.[40][41]

Consensus selections[edit]

Other selections[edit]

Other major national awards[edit]

Honored jerseys[edit]

Louisville has honored the jerseys of 20 former players. Their numbers remain active.

Honored Jerseys
Number Player Position Years
14 Alfred "Butch" Beard Guard 1966–69
10 Ulysses "Junior" Bridgeman Guard/Forward 1972–75
16 Jack Coleman Forward/Center 1946–49
24 Don Goldstein Forward 1956–59
4 Lancaster Gordon Guard 1980–84
13 George Hauptfuhrer Center 1944–46
20 Bob Lochmueller Forward 1949–52
22 Rodney McCray Forward/Center 1979–83
12 Jim Morgan Guard 1953–57
20 Allen Murphy Guard/Forward 1972–75
16 Chuck Noble Forward/Guard 1950–54
13 Bud Olsen Center 1959–62
15 Jim Price Guard 1969–72
13 Kenny Reeves Guard 1946–50
9 Phil Rollins Guard 1952–56
43 Derek Smith Guard/Forward 1978–82
55 Billy Thompson Forward 1982–86
22 John Turner Forward 1958–61
20 Milt Wagner Guard 1981–86
32 DeJuan Wheat Guard 1993–97

|- |style="text-align:center;"|45 || Donovan Mitchell || Guard || Cleveland Cavaliers |}

Conference Player of the Year[edit]


Co-Players of the Year
Player (X) Denotes the number of times the player has been
awarded the Player of the Year award at that point
Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year
Season Player Position Class
1973–74 Junior Bridgeman SF Junior
1974–75 Junior Bridgeman (2) SF Senior
Metro Conference Player of the Year
Season Player Position Class
1977–78 Rick Wilson SG/PG Senior
1979–80 Darrell Griffith SG Senior
1980–81 Derek Smith SG Junior
1982–83 Rodney McCray SF Senior
1986–87 Herbert Crook SF/SG Junior
1987–88 Pervis Ellison C Junior
1992–93 Clifford Rozier C Sophomore
1993–94 Clifford Rozier (2) C Junior

Conference Tournament Most Outstanding Player[edit]

Metro Conference tournament Most Outstanding Player
Season Player Position Class
1978 Rick Wilson SG/PG Senior
1980 Darrell Griffith SG Senior
1981 Rodney McCray SF Sophomore
1983 Rodney McCray(2) SF Senior
1986 Pervis Ellison C Freshman
1988 Herbert Crook SF Senior
1989 Pervis Ellison(2) C Senior
1990 LaBradford Smith SG Junior
1991 LaBradford Smith(2) SG Senior
1993 Dwayne Morton SF Sophomore
1994 Clifford Rozier C Junior
1995 DeJuan Wheat PG Sophomore
Conference USA Tournament Most Outstanding Player
Season Player Position Class
2003 Luke Whitehead SF Junior
2005 Taquan Dean SG/PG Junior
Big East Conference tournament Most Outstanding Player
Season Player Position Class
2012 Peyton Siva PG Junior
2013 Peyton Siva PG Senior
American Athletic Conference tournament Most Valuable Player
Season Player Position Class
2014 Russ Smith SG/PG Senior

1000-point scorers[edit]

As of 2015, Louisville has 67 1000-point career scorers, second only to North Carolina for most all time.[42]

Cardinals in the pros[edit]

The Cardinals have had 75 players taken in the NBA draft, the most recent being Ray Spalding, who was chosen in the 2018 NBA draft, and Donovan Mitchell, who was chosen in the 2017 NBA draft. 30 former Cardinal players are playing professional basketball, with six of those currently playing in the NBA.

Louisville Cardinals basketball player Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell is one of five former Cardinals playing in the NBA in 2020.
Name League Team
Deng Adel United States NBA G League Long Island Nets
Chane Behanan Puerto Rico BSN Santeros de Aguada
Wayne Blackshear United States NBA G League Maine Red Claws
Rakeem Buckles France LNB Pro B Lille Métropole BC
Earl Clark Spain Liga ACB San Pablo Burgos
Taquan Dean France LNB Pro A Élan Béarnais Pau-Lacq-Orthez
Nouha Diakite France LNB Pro B Lille Métropole BC
Gorgui Dieng United States NBA Memphis Grizzlies
Anton Gill Finland Koripallon I-divisioona Koiviston Kipinä Basket
Montrezl Harrell United States NBA Philadelphia 76ers
Terence Jennings Bulgaria NBL Beroe
Jaylen Johnson United States NBA G League Iowa Wolves
V.J. King United States NBA G-League Westchester Knicks
Preston Knowles Thailand ASEAN Basketball League Mono Vampire
Kyle Kuric Spain Liga ACB FC Barcelona Lassa
Damion Lee United States NBA Phoenix Suns
Trey Lewis Israel Israel Basketball Premier League Maccabi Rishon LeZion
Mangok Mathiang Israel Israeli Basketball Premier League Hapoel Eilat
Donovan Mitchell United States NBA Cleveland Cavaliers
Alhaji Mohammed Tunisia Championnat National A US Monastir
Jordan Nwora United States NBA Milwaukee Bucks
Larry O'Bannon Argentina LNB Hispano Americano
Chinanu Onuaku United States NBA G League Greensboro Swarm
Juan Palacios Spain Liga ACB Movistar Estudiantes
Terry Rozier United States NBA Charlotte Hornets
Samardo Samuels France LNB Pro A Chorale Roanne
Peyton Siva Germany Bundesliga Alba Berlin
Chris Smith Israel Israeli Basketball Premier League Hapoel Jerusalem
Jerry Smith Greece GBL Ifaistos Limnou
Russ Smith Israel Israel Basketball Premier League Hapoel Be'er Sheva
Quentin Snider Netherlands DBL Feyenoord
Édgar Sosa Israel Israeli Basketball Premier League Hapoel Gilboa Galil
Ray Spalding United States NBA G League Greensboro Swarm
Kevin Ware Finland Korisliiga Korihait

Several other former players have played in the NBA, including:


Home courts[edit]

KFC Yum! Center (2010–present)[edit]

Since the 2010–11 season the Cardinals have played their home games at the KFC Yum! Center located along the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Louisville. As of February 7, 2017, Louisville has a 114–14 record (.891) in 6 seasons in the KFC Yum! Center.[43][44][failed verification]

The facility has a seating capacity of 22,090 with 71 suites and 62 loge boxes.[45] It is the third-largest in the nation (behind only Syracuse's Carrier Dome, Tennessee's Thompson Boling Arena, and Kentucky's Rupp Arena). Louisville ranked among the top 3 in attendance in the first three seasons at the KFC Yum! Center.[46] The attendance record of 22,815 was set on March 9, 2013, against #24 Notre Dame.

The playing surface at the KFC Yum! Center is named Denny Crum Court in honor of Hall of Fame coach Denny Crum. The University of Louisville first renamed its home court after Crum in January 2007.[47]

Since the opening of the KFC Yum Center, the University of Louisville has become the most valuable college basketball team in the nation. In 2012 the Cardinals were worth $36.1 million, up nearly 40% from two years earlier, before the Yum Center opened.[48]

Freedom Hall at the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center

Freedom Hall (1956–2010)[edit]

From 1956 to the completion of the KFC Yum! Center in 2010, the Cardinals played their home games at Freedom Hall. Louisville had a 664–136 record in 54 seasons in Freedom Hall (.83 winning percentage). Freedom Hall has been the site of six NCAA Final Fours, four additional NCAA events and 10 conference tournaments. ESPN College Basketball magazine once named Freedom Hall as the nation's "Best Playing Floor."

Louisville ranked among the top 10 nationally in average home attendance at Freedom Hall for 31 years, including the last 28 in the nation's top five (19,397 in 2009–10, third in the nation). In 2010, a new Freedom Hall attendance record was set when 20,135 fans witnessed the Cardinals defeat the #1 ranked Syracuse Orange in the final University of Louisville game in the arena.[49]

Jefferson County Armory as it was September 5, 2007 now named the Louisville Gardens

Jefferson County Armory (1945–1972)[edit]

Jefferson County Armory was the primary home of Louisville Cardinals basketball starting in 1945 when Bernard "Peck" Hickman was head coach until the 1957–58 season, when Freedom Hall became their primary home game site. The Cardinals played 10 of their home games in the Jefferson County Armory in 1956–57 and three games in Freedom Hall. Louisville played one game at the armory in 1958–59.In the 1960s the armory was renamed the Louisville Convention Center. The Cardinals played two games at the Convention Center in 1963–64 and three games in the Convention Center in 1964–65. The last game the Cardinals played there was November 30, 1972. Louisville was 153–23 all time at the Jefferson County Armory which is now named the Louisville Gardens.[50][51]

Belknap Gymnasium (1931–1944)[edit]

After playing home games at numerous venues in its early years, the Cardinals moved to the newly constructed Belknap Gymnasium in 1931. The gym housed 600 bleacher seats and the baskets were mounted directly to the wall. Louisville compiled a 56–35 (.615 winning percentage) before moving to the Jefferson County Armory. The gym was razed in 1993 to make way for Lutz Hall.[52]

Practice facilities[edit]

Planet Fitness-Kueber Center (2007–present)[edit]

Since 2007 the Cardinals have practiced at the $15.2 million, 60,000 square feet (5,600 m2) Planet Fitness-Kueber Center on campus. The Planet Fitness-Kueber Center houses the teams basketball offices, practice facilities, film room and training areas.

The facility was named the Yum! Center, until December 2018 when local businessmen Rick and David Kueber donated $3 million to rename the facility.[53]

Controversies and scandals[edit]

1956 recruiting violations[edit]

In 1956 the team was placed on probation for two years by the NCAA, including bans on postseason play, due to recruiting violations.[8]

2015 sex scandal[edit]

A former Louisville player, and then Director of Basketball Operations, Andre McGee, arranged and paid for strippers and prostitutes to perform striptease dances and sexual acts for 17 prospective and former basketball players from 2010 to 2014. On October 3, 2015, the book publisher IBJ Custom Publishing released a book entitled "Breaking Cardinal Rules." Based on revelations provided by the local self-described escort, Katina Powell, the book detailed striptease dances and acts of prostitution that Powell and McGee arranged and organized in Minardi Hall over approximately a four-year period.[54]

During the investigation of the allegations, the university self-imposed a ban on the 2016 NCAA tournament. In June 2016, the NCAA announced that the university would lose four basketball scholarships over the course of four seasons, but there would be no further postseason ban. The NCAA suspended head coach Rick Pitino for five ACC games during the 2017–18 season. The NCAA also ordered the university to vacate all wins from 2011 to 2014 that include ineligible players. The vacated wins include a Final Four appearance in 2012 and an NCAA Tournament Championship in 2013.[55] Luke Hancock's 2013 Final Four Most Valuable Player Award was reinstated by the NCAA because he was found to be innocent of any NCAA rule violations.

2017–18 NCAA corruption scandal[edit]

As a result of a corruption scandal implicating various schools including Louisville,[56][57][58] on September 27, 2017, Louisville placed head coach Rick Pitino on unpaid administrative leave and athletic director Tom Jurich on paid administrative leave.[59] Rick Pitino and Tom Jurich would then be fired with cause by the university. Two days later, assistant David Padgett, a former star player under Pitino at Louisville, was named as acting head coach.[60]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ "2011 NCAA Men's Final Four Statistics" (PDF). 2011 NCAA Men's Basketball Statistics. National Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  3. ^ "2015–16 Louisville Basketball Guide" (PDF). University of Louisville. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  4. ^ "How Kenny Payne's contract for Louisville men's basketball compares with ACC coaches". March 18, 2022. Retrieved March 18, 2022.
  5. ^ "Louisville Basketball Media Guide". University of Louisville Athletic Department. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  6. ^ "NAIA Division I Men's Basketball" (PDF). NAIA. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 15, 2010. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
  7. ^ "NIT Postseason Tournament Results (1950's)". NCAA. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
  8. ^ a b "The Stanford Daily Archives". archives.stanforddaily.com.
  9. ^ "Former Hoop Coach/AD Hickman Dies". University of Louisville Athletic Department. Retrieved December 27, 2011.
  10. ^ "Louisville Cardinal Head Coaches". University of Louisville. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  11. ^ "ESPN.com - NCB - The Denny Crum Legacy". static.espn.go.com.
  12. ^ "Player Bio: Denny Crum :: Men's Basketball". Archived from the original on October 26, 2006.
  13. ^ "Official Website of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame – Hall of Famers". Archived from the original on October 12, 2007.
  14. ^ "Louisville Hires Rick Pitino As Head Men's Basketball Coach". gocards.com. March 21, 2001. Retrieved March 4, 2001.
  15. ^ "The Enshrinement Class of 2013". Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on April 30, 2013. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
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  18. ^ Jeff Greer (February 5, 2016). "U of L imposing postseason hoops ban". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, KY. Retrieved February 5, 2016.
  19. ^ Scooby Axson (June 15, 2017). "NCAA suspends Rick Pitino for five ACC games following sex scandal probe". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved June 16, 2017.
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  27. ^ Colin Dwyer (February 20, 2018). "Louisville Must Vacate Its 2013 National Title After NCAA Upholds Ruling". NPR. Retrieved September 5, 2018.
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  29. ^ "2019 Team Rankings". n.rivals.com.
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  32. ^ Rutherford, Mike (March 7, 2023). "Louisville ends worst season in program history with 80-62 loss to Boston College". cardchronicle.com. SB Nation. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
  33. ^ "2022-23 Media Guide" (PDF). gocards.com. Retrieved April 8, 2023.
  34. ^ a b "2021–22 Division I Men's Basketball Records" (PDF). NCAA. p. 71. Retrieved March 30, 2022.
  35. ^ "Missouri Valley Conference Index | College Basketball at". Sports-reference.com. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  36. ^ a b "Metropolitan Collegiate Athletic Conference Index | College Basketball at". Sports-reference.com. Retrieved March 12, 2012.
  37. ^ "Dick Vitale picks the best rivalries in college sports". ESPN.com. February 10, 2012.
  38. ^ a b c d e 'Russdiculous': UofL retires Russ Smith's No. 2 jersey By Bryce Shreve and Erin Kelly Kentucky - Jan. 22, 2022
  39. ^ John Papanek. "A Rookie Gives The Jazz Pizzazz". Sports Illustrated. December 8, 1980. Retrieved on February 1, 2010.
  40. ^ "Division I Consensus All-American Selections" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  41. ^ "Louisville All-Americans". University of Louisville Athletic Department. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  42. ^ "Louisville Basketball Media Guide 2010–11". University of Louisville Athletic Department.
  43. ^ "2015–16 Louisville Basketball Media Guide" (PDF). University of Louisville. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
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  45. ^ "Men's Basketball Information Guide". University of Louisville Athletic Department. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
  46. ^ "NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Attendance Leaders Year-by-Year (1970–2011)" (PDF). NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Attendance Leaders Year-by-Year (1970–2012). National Collegiate Athletic Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 18, 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
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External links[edit]