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    Photo courtesy University of Louisville Women’s Basketball Facebook Page
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    The University of Louisville women’s basketball team is off to the second-best start in program history, winning 17 of its first 18 games.

    The Cardinals began 23-1 last season but let’s face it, that was against lesser competition as they played in the American Athletic Conference which, if not for the presence of Connecticut, was basically a mid-major.

    This season, though, U of L’s start - which included decisive pre-conference wins over a pair of ranked foes (Iowa and Western Kentucky) - is a little more legit. That’s because the Cards, who are ranked fourth nationally in both the Associated Press Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll, are doing it in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which is arguably the best league in the country (six ACC teams are ranked in both Top 25s this week). Sunday’s 67-55 victory over visiting Virginia put Louisville (17-1, 5-0) alone atop the ACC standings.

    The next month will likely tell us a lot (i.e. is this team a national title contender?) about U of L, though. That’s because five of the Cards’ next nine opponents are ranked in the Top 25, beginning Thursday night. That’s when Louisville visits 17th-ranked Florida State (17-2, 4-1) at 7 p.m. in Tallahassee, Fla.

    The Seminoles have won four straight games - including a 74-58 win over No. 13 Duke - since a 74-68 loss at USA Today No. 5/AP No. 6 Notre Dame on Jan. 2.

    Florida State is led by 6-foot-4 junior center Adut Bulgak (14 ppg, 10.3 rpg), 5-8 senior guard Maegan Conwright (11.5 ppg, 3.6 apg), 5-8 sophomore guard Leticia Romero (11.2 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 3.5 apg), 6-1 sophomore forward Ivey Slaughter (11.1 ppg, 6.3 rpg), 5-11 freshman forward Shakayla Thomas (10.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg), 6-2 junior center Morgan Jones (7.9 ppg, 3.9 rpg) and 5-8 sophomore guard Brittany Brown (7.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg). Romero, a transfer from Kansas State, recently became eligible.

    “They’re a top-10 team,” U of L coach Jeff Walz said of the Seminoles after Sunday’s win over Virginia. “They aren’t ranked Top 10, but they’re a Top 10 team. We’re going to head in, it’s going to be a battle, there’s no question. If we don’t go down there prepared to play and know that we’re going to get their best shot, then shame on us.”

    It doesn’t get any easier after that. The Cards return home to host Miami (14-4, 4-1)  at 5 p.m. Sunday and USA Today No. 22/AP No. 23 Syracuse at 7 p.m. next Thursday night.

    Photo courtesy University of Louisville Women’s Basketball Facebook Page

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