The University of Louisville women’s basketball team is picked to finish fourth in the nation next season by Sports Illustrated.

“The Cardinals lost two starters (junior guard Tia Gibbs and senior forward Monique Reid) to season-ending injuries after just eight games but rallied behind a young squad that nearly knocked off Maryland in the second round. Next year they’ll benefit from the experience, plus a loaded roster led by flashy junior point guard Shoni Schimmel (14.3 points, 4.7 assists, and 2.4 steals per game) and sophomore Bria Smith, who started 33 games as a freshman and averaged 9.2 points and 4.5 rebounds. Gibbs is expected back from a torn labrum and if Reid gains a fifth year of eligibility from the NCAA this team has scary potential. Keep in mind Reid led Louisville in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore and junior.”

UConn is second, Duke third, Maryland fifth and Kentucky sixth.

The bad news for everybody else is that Baylor (40-0) returns all starters from this year’s national championship team, including Brittney Griner.

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By Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.