After their stunning performance Saturday against arch rival Syracuse, the University of Louisville Cardinals were made the top pick going into the NCAA Tournament. Whispers of that possibility began after the Notre Dame win on Friday coupled with the loss Georgetown suffered in the Big East Tournament.
Asked who should be the number one seed, even coach Rick Pitino said he thought his Cards should be there. The resume certainly there proves it. Even the Cardinals losses this season have been by single digits. Most of the other top teams going to the big dance have had at least one bad, double-digit loss.
And consider that Louisville hasn’t lost a game in regulation since January 26th. Even then Notre Dame had to push the Cards to 5 overtimes to hand them a defeat. The Ville got their revenge for that loss twice in the last two weeks by beating the Fighting Irish in the last game of the regular season and again in the Big East Tournament.
The Midwest Region, the part of the bracket that the Cards rule, looks to be the toughest division to go through on the way to the Final Four. Besides Louisville, Duke, Michigan State, Saint Louis, Oklahoma State and Memphis are all looking to get past the Midwest on their way to Atlanta.
Besides having the gutsiest squad in the nation, Louisville gets the advantage of playing their opening round games in Lexington’s Rupp Arena. That’s usually enemy territory, but since the Kentucky Wildcats didn’t get an invitation to the Big Dance, that’s going to leave lots of seats for fans in red who will make the 90 mile trek to cheer on their team.
But wait, there’s more. Should the Cards make it out of that weekend, they play their Sweet 16 and Elite Eight games in Indianapolis. More opportunities for Card Nation to travel a short distance to boost their team.
Looming in the distance, a potential Elite Eight matchup with Duke. In November’s Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, the Blue Devils beat Louisville who, at the time, had just lost Gorgui Dieng to a wrist injury. As if the NCAA Tournament didn’t already provide ample storylines, this one could see how the Cards would play the Dukies with a healthy 6’11” shot-blocking center.
Other area teams in the tournament include the East Region number one seed Indiana, that same region’s number 6 seed Butler and the 16 seed in the South Region Western Kentucky.
Photo: Louisville.com/Tim Girton