Is Louisville's men's basketball team cursed?

The Cardinals weren’t expected to be good, but no one expected them to be this bad, either

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El Ellis
Louisville guard El Ellis walks off the court after missing the game-winning shot at the buzzer during a 61-60 loss to Appalachian State
Image: AP

Louisville, a once proud basketball school, is off to a historically and uniquely bad start. They’re 0-3 to start the season with all three losses coming by exactly one point.

According to Reece Davis during halftime of one of the State Farm Championship Classic games, it’s the first time a team has started 0-3 with three one-point losses in “at least 42 years.” I guess this is such a unique feat that they weren’t even keeping track of it back then.

These losses would be heartbreaking for anyone, but to be an ACC team and start the season by losing to Bellarmine, Wright State, and Appalachian State is brutal. Louisville was picked to finish 12th out of 15 teams in the conference in the ACC preseason poll, so the Cardinals weren’t exactly expected to contend for a national championship, but still, no one could’ve seen this coming.


Almost as unique as the run of one-point losses itself are the ways in which all of these games have ended. Let’s start at the beginning with the loss to Bellarmine, a private school in Louisville that only started competing in Division I in 2020.

Louisville trailed by one with 10.6 seconds left in the game, and was inbounding the ball underneath the opponent’s basket. After a tough contested two and a putback attempt that also missed, a Bellarmine player rebounded the ball and delivered a pin-point, no-look, over-the-head pass to an empty backcourt.

The ball lazily trickled across the court as precious seconds ticked off the clock. It went out of bounds 94 feet away from the basket with 0.9 seconds left. Louisville’s attempt at a halfcourt shot bounced harmlessly high and wide off the backboard in the 67-66 loss.

In their next game against Wright State, Louisville led by one with 13.2 seconds to go, inbounding it under their own basket. They broke one of the cardinal rules (pun intended) of basketball and inbounded it into the corner. Two Wright State defenders trapped and were able to force a jump ball. Possession arrow: Wright State.


On the last possession of the game, Wright State’s Trey Calvin took what anyone would assume was a terrible shot. A step back, pump fake, long two, contested by two defenders as time expired. Nothing but net. 73-72.

The Cards’ most recent loss to Appalachian State might be the cruelest of all. Down by one in the last seconds of the game, Louisville scored a layup as time expired. That would’ve been the deciding basket, but it was waved off after review showed that the player did not get the shot off in time.


That was only after the players and fans had all celebrated the Cards’ first “win” of the season. To have thought you won, only to find out that you lost your third straight game by one point, is a Shakespearian-level tragedy.

Even more hilarious is that, if you watch the condensed version of this game on the ACC’s YouTube channel, the video just ends as Louisville is celebrating. The scoreboard shows a 62-61 Louisville win as it fades to black and then plugs the ACC Digital Network’s social media.


It’s likely just a mistake, but I’m choosing to believe it’s blatant ACC propaganda, an erasure of a troubling past by a fascist conference. Any books that tell the true story of that game should expect to be burned in the town square.

There’s probably a Louisville fan out there right now that only watched this particular highlight video and is going about their day thinking that they won. If you’re that person then I’m so sorry you had to hear it from me.


This unfortunate, unlucky, and yet comedic run makes me think that one of the coaches or players was granted a wish from a genie but didn’t read the fine print and is now experiencing some horrible, twisted version of what they wanted. Something like “I wish more people were talking about our team,” or “I wish our games were more exciting.”

The way in which Louisville lost these games may be extremely unlikely, but you might’ve been able to guess the wins and losses themselves. They played a preseason exhibition against Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University and lost 57-47.