A win would have locked Louisville into the NCAA Tournament. The 75-58 loss on Thursday to top-seeded Virginia put that fantasy to bed. Louisville, 20-13 on the season, now must wait until Sunday to find out if the selection committee thinks they have done enough.
Louisville head coach David Padgett thinks they have.
“Unfortunately that’s not my decision,” said Padgett. “But if you look at our overall body of work, we haven’t done anything wrong. I think that’s getting lost a lot in the shuffle this year is people used to put a lot of emphasis and a lot of weight on these, quote-unquote, bad losses. Well, we don’t have any of those. We’ve played a top-20 schedule, we finished .500 in the toughest league in the country which, without a doubt, it’s the toughest league in the country, and we got 20 wins. We haven’t done anything wrong.
“And people will say, well, maybe you guys haven’t done as much right as other people and all that, but not having done something wrong is doing something right. We’ve played a very, very difficult schedule, under very difficult circumstances this year, and my guys have 120 percent earned an opportunity to have their name called on Sunday.
“Like I said, it’s not up to us, but they without a doubt earned it. And you can’t possibly sit here and tell me that we’re not one of the best 68 teams in the country. Anybody who’s seen us play, anybody who watched our game against the No. 1 team in the country a week ago today knows that we are one of the best 68 teams in the country.”
The Cardinals gave it a great shot on Thursday, rallying from a 17 point first half deficit to cut the Virginia lead down to four. Now they just need to hope other teams on the bubble fail to make an impact in their conference tournaments as well.
Kansas State, thought by some to be on the bubble for an entry to the NCAA tournament, pulled out a squeaker in the first game of the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday. After TCU tied it up at the buzzer to send the game into overtime, the Wildcats outlasted TCU and will face in-state rivals Kansas on Friday. Kansas is a five point favorite on the early offshore line.
“I’m really proud of our guys, happy for them”, said KSU head coach Bruce Weber. “From the beginning I told them before the game since practice when we got back and got going in the spring through the summer and through the fall, they worked their tails off. They’ve had great leadership, you know. They’ve done everything we’ve asked. They’re very, very coachable. Probably raised my voice, you know, other than yelling play hard and all that stuff, you know. But getting after ’em a couple times all year. They’re a great group. We got down 7. We didn’t have much emotion. Cartier made a couple of good plays for us, got energy going. Kam went in and made a play and Mak was very good, a lot of big plays.”
Weber talked about the final play in regulation where TCU hit a a game tying three point play. “Obviously we probably should have fouled on the three at the end. We had ’em in the — but it’s in that chaotic state where you’re running back, and, you know, they made a great play. You gotta give them credit, but we came back. Very rarely when teams make a big shot like that do you come back with the emotional and energy that we had in the overtime period that we found to win. Barry obviously made the big play at the end. We gave him the ball and he had a chance to make the play and he came up big for us and made the basket.”
TCU is expected to be selected to the Tournament on Sunday. Head Coach Jamie Dixon is hoping for nine of the 10 Big 12 teams to make the field.
“I never thought it would be possible to get nine teams in the NCAA tournament, but we’re giving it as good of a shot as you possibly can,” said Dixon. “So it will be a great boost for our conference to get eight, nine, whatever it may be in. It’s remarkable. What we did in nonconference was remarkable, and I’ve been in good conferences. But top to bottom this provides the greatest challenge. It’s a great conference, and I think people are recognizing it more and more.”