By Sam Draut–
The University of Louisville women’s basketball team missed out on staying close to home for the entirety of a potential run in the NCAA tournament, but the three-seeded Cardinals will play their first round game at the KFC YUM! Center against Central Arkansas at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.
While many bracket pundits predicted Louisville (25-7) to be selected to the Lexington Region, where the Cardinals would potentially play its first two rounds in Louisville and the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 rounds in Lexington, the Cardinals were sent to the Dallas Region. Baylor is the top-seed in the region and second-seeded Oregon State looms as a potential Sweet 16 matchup for the Cardinals.
If Louisville advances past Central Arkansas (28-3), the Cardinals would play the winner of sixth-seeded DePaul and 11th-seeded James Madison on Sunday in the round of 32.
After starting the season 1-4 and then dropping to 3-5, Louisville won 22 of 24 games and finished in sole possession of second place in the ACC with a 15-1 conference record. Led by ACC Player of the Year Myisha Hines-Allen, the Cardinals defeated five ranked teams in the regular season. Mariya Moore was named to the All-ACC first-team and Asia Durr earned All-ACC Freshmen team honors.
The Cardinals defeated Georgia Tech 60-50 in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament last weekend, but fell to 17th-ranked Syracuse in a disappointing semi-final loss. Louisville head coach Jeff Walz was frustrated with his team’s defensive performance in the 80-75 loss, and said the team would spend the two weeks leading up to the NCAA tournament trying to improve its defense.
“When you have breakdowns at this time of the year with the people you’re playing, they’re going to score,” Walz said. “That’s something that we’ve got to figure out or it’s going to be a short-lived event in the NCAA Tournament.”
Walz called the two week stretch leading up to the NCAA tournament “crucial” for the program.
Redshirt-junior Cortnee Walton injured her left pinky finger in the final game of the regular season and played in the ACC tournament with the appendage heavily taped. The 6-foot-3 forward is the Cardinals second-leading rebounder.
Photo by Wade Morgen / The Louisville Cardinal