Monday, December 15, 2014

ODU bids for signature win at Louisville

It's will be an extremely tall task, but if Old Dominion can knock off No. 10 Louisville tonight, it would be the Lady Monarchs' biggest win in years, and certainly the most notable of the Karen Barefoot era.

By far.

It's too early to judge the quality of the non-conference opponents ODU (5-2) has played this season. But we can evaluate the Lady Monarchs' victims over Barefoot's first three seasons, and over that span ODU didn't beat anyone even close to the caliber of these Cardinals (8-1).

In fact, of the 20 non-conference victories the Lady Monarchs compiled in their first three seasons under Barefoot, only two came against teams that finished with a winning record - last year's WNIT first rounder against Navy (24-8), and a 2012-13 decision over South Carolina State (20-9).

One other non-conference win, in 2011-12 vs. North Carolina A&T (15-16), came against a team that finished close to .500. ODU's other 17 non-league victims all finished at least five games below the break-even mark.

Furthermore, the Navy, South Carolina State and N.C. A&T victories all came at the Constant Center. ODU's "best" non-conference road win the past three seasons was probably a 2012-13 decision at a Virginia Tech team that finished 10-20.

In fairness to the Lady Monarchs, they haven't exactly had a ton of opportunities for quality non-conference wins. Barefoot's scheduling style appears to favor building a team's confidence with a healthy dose of home games against manageable opponents. And it seemed to work last season, when the Lady Monarchs caught fire in mid-February and played their best ball down the stretch.

Since being in top form come March is the goal of every team, it's hard to knock this approach. Still, Old Dominion teams were once famous for knocking off a contender or two before Christmas, too.

Tonight, let's see if these Lady Monarchs can take their best shot.

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