By Conner Farrell —
In the men’s college basketball scene, March is always a treasured time. Conference tournaments tip off and the goal for every school is in sight: Cutting down the nets and winning the last game.
Before fans revel in long-awaited March Madness, they have to wade through a never-ending slog of bracketology. Who’s in? Who’s out? Who are the sleepers? Where will my team end up? These questions are all on the radar as conference play winds down.
For fans that don the red and black, there’s only one team to worry about: the Louisville Cardinals. At this point, it seems certain the Cards are set for an at-large bid on Selection Sunday. Losing a 23-point lead to Duke at home doesn’t help their case, but an 18-8 overall record and 9-4 record in conference play puts Louisville in a solid spot.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at where bracketologists say head coach Chris Mack and his team will land in March.
What the experts are saying
In most approximations by certified bracketologists, U of L resides between a four-seed and six-seed in mock brackets.
According to ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, the Cards will be a five-seed in the Midwest region where Virginia will take the top spot. A fellow bracketology major, CBS’s Jerry Palm, has Louisville at a six-seed in the West region.
It should also be noted that the NCAA selection committee recently rolled out their top 16 seeds for the upcoming tournament. Their mock-up had the Cardinals as a four-seed in the West.
As of now, with a handful of regular season games to be played, Louisville could certainly work its way to a better seed.
Every game I write the resume
In an allusion to singer-songwriter Elvis Costello’s 1983 single, “Everyday I Write the Book,” the Cards do the same with their tournament resume.
Standing with an 18-8 record and 9-4 in the ACC, U of L is one of only two teams in the top 25 with more than six losses. Examining those games, Louisville had no defeats to “bad” teams.
Four of the losses came from teams within the AP top 10 rankings, while three others are Quadrant 1 losses in the NET rankings. The one exception is the Pittsburgh Panthers.
Louisville is ranked No. 16 in the NET (as of Feb. 17) with four Quadrant 1 wins, alongside a Sagarin rating of No. 17. Out of all metrics, the most impressive the Cardinals carry is their strength of schedule. They have the fourth-toughest slate of games in the nation, ranking second among ACC teams behind Duke.
Five conference games remain on Louisville’s slate, including two contests against Virginia. Besides winning both, a solid scenario includes U of L splitting the games with highly-talented UVA.
If the Cardinals can split the Hoos, along with taking care of business against Boston College, Notre Dame and Syracuse, they may be eyeing a three-seed in the NCAA tournament. And that’s regardless of their performance in the ACC tournament.
For now, U of L is aptly slotted at a five- or six -seed in the latest version of projections among analysts and will be looking to proliferate that projection portfolio come Selection Sunday.
You can follow the Louisville Cardinal on Twitter @thecardsports.
File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal