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Louisville Men's Basketball Head Coach Hot Board 2.0

Here's an updated look at some of the more likely candidates to replace Kenny Payne as the head men's basketball coach of the Cardinals.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - It's been a little over a week since the University of Louisville opted to fire men's basketball head coach Kenny Payne. The Cardinals recently concluded a disastrous 8-24 campaign in what was Payne's second year at the helm and Payne ended his tenure at his alma mater with a 12-52 overall record.

However, since the Payne was dismissed last Wednesday, there have been a ton of moving parts as it pertains to some of Louisville's top targets.

For starters, it was reported that Baylor head coach Scott Drew - who was perceived to be the Cardinals No. 1 target - would indeed be staying in Waco with the Bears. Additionally, Alabama head coach Nate Oats agreed to an extension with the Crimson Tide, and Indiana State head coach Josh Schertz is rumored to be in the mix for the Saint Louis job.

With that being said, who is still in the mix for the job? Below is an updated list of the individuals that are very likely candidates to be the next head coach of the Cardinals. Candidates in alphabetical order by last name:

Mick Cronin

Record at UCLA: 114-52
Overall head coaching record: 478-223

Summary: Whether it was Murray State, Cincinnati or UCLA, Cronin has had success everywhere he has gone. Not only has he made multiple NCAA Tournament appearances at each stop, but has been named conference Coach of the Year at least once with each program. Not to mention that he has Louisville ties, serving as an assistant under Rick Pitino for two seasons.

One caveat is that, while Cronin gets to the NCAA Tournament, he hasn't taken his team far. Out of his 14 trips to the Big Dance, he made it past the first weekend just four times. While he has done so in every one of his non-COVID seasons with the Bruins, including a Final Four in 2021, UCLA is primed to miss out on the NCAA Tournament entirely this season.

Jamie Dixon

Record at TCU: 160-109
Overall head coaching record: 488-232

Summary: Ever since becoming a head coach, Dixon has been incredibly successful. During his 13-year run as the head coach at Pitt, he guided the Panthers to 11 NCAA Tournament appearances, and three trips to the second weekend. Pitt was also briefly ranked as the No. 1 team in the country during the 2008-09 season when he was named the Naismith Coach of the Year.

He eventually left the ACC to coach TCU, his alma mater. While his first five years at the helm were a mixed bag, Dixon has led the Horned Frogs to three-straight NCAA Tournament appearances, and they are a trendy pick to upset No. 1 Purdue in a potential second round matchup. The big question with Dixon is: would he leave Fort Worth, and how serious of a candidate is he?

Shaheen Holloway

Record at Seton Hall: 37-28
Overall head coaching record: 101-85

Summary: Holloway is quickly ascending up the coaching ladder, and is regarded as one of the top young coaches in the country. Taking over a Saint Peters program that had one winning season in a seven-year span, he was able to guide them on a miracle Cinderella run to the Elite Eight during his fourth year with the Peacocks in 2022, which included a stunning first round upset over Kentucky.

After that, he left for his alma mater at Seton Hall. While Holloway has yet to guide the Pirates to the NCAA Tournament in his two seasons there, they very nearly made it this season, and he has had some impressive wins so far - including two against UConn. But, like with Dixon, would Holloway be one to leave his alma mater that he is extremely loyal to?

Pat Kelsey

Record at Charleston: 75-26
Overall head coaching record: 261-121

Summary: Kelsey has been one of the top mid-major coaches in college basketball for quite some time now, and his last two seasons at Charleston have been some of his best coaching work. The Cougars are 58-11 during this span, are back-to-back Coastal Athletic Association champions, and have been a popular pick to upset Alabama in the first round of this year's tournament.

That being said, in his three NCAA Tournament appearances between Charleston and Winthrop, Kelsey has not advanced past the first round once. His name has also come up for a smattering of other jobs, but has yet to take that next step. He's also not a proven recruiter at all, as he's only ever landed two recruits with a 247Sports profile during his time as a head coach. Though NIL could help with that last part.

Dusty May

Record at Florida Atlantic: 125-67
Overall head coaching record: 125-67

Summary: May is one of the hottest young names in college basketball coaching, and for good reason. In what was just FAU's second NCAA Tournament berth since making the jump to Division I in the mid-1990's, he helped guide the Owls to a 35-4 record and a remarkable run to the Final Four last season. FAU also looks poised to make some noise in the year's Big Dance as well, with eight wins against KenPom top-75 competition, including a win over then-AP No. 6 Arizona.

The main knock against May is his relative inexperience, especially at a high level. Prior to FAU's miracle run to the Final Four, he was just 66-56 in his first four years with the Owls. Plus, he's not a proven recruiter up to this point, but that could also be a product of coaching a team outside of a power conference. Additionally, you might have to worry about his alma mater, Indiana, trying to poach him at some point.

Eric Musselman

Record at Arkansas: 110-58
Overall college head coaching record: 220-92

Ranging from the college ranks to the NBA, Musselman has an extensive background in coaching the game of basketball. Prior to Arkansas, he was the head coach at Nevada, has been an assistant at LSU and Arizona State, as well as the head man at the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings.

While his fifth year with the Razorbacks has been a big disappointment at 15-16, he has already long shown he is an elite college coach. He has led Arkansas to a pair of Elite Eights and a Sweet 16, and has signed three top-15 recruiting classes - including the No. 2 class in 2022. Though he does have a bit of a reputation with assistants as being hard to work with, and there is the worry that me might not be in it for the long haul considering he has not stayed at one place for more than a few seasons.

(Photo of Dusty May: Chris Jones - USA TODAY Sports)

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