By Matt Bradshaw —
Last year, women’s basketball earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history. Louisville stormed its way to the Final Four and ended its postseason with a heartbreaking overtime loss to Mississippi State.
For the past month, it seemed like the Cardinals were a lock for another one-seed this year. They won nine straight games and topped the ACC with the best record in the conference.
The No. 1 seed is still in sight, though U of L recently hurt its tournament resume with its second loss of the season. The No. 2 Cards fell 79-73 to No. 20 Miami on Feb. 17, fumbling their outright advantage in the ACC. Notre Dame, NC State, Miami and Louisville will each vie for the top spot as the regular season winds down.
With four games remaining, two at home and two away, U of L holds a 23-2 overall record and 10-2 record in conference play. Three of those games should be easy wins for the Cardinals, coming against schools at the bottom of the standings in Virginia, Boston College and Pittsburgh.
One game will not be so easy, and that’s Louisville hosting NC State on Feb. 28. The Wolfpack remained the only undefeated team in the country before losing earlier this month. They still hold one of the best records in the NCAA, and the Cards must play on-point in order to beat them.
Sweeping the final four games of the regular season will not necessarily ensure a No. 1 seed, as the ACC tournament approaches soon after. If Notre Dame defeats Louisville in the conference tourney, then the NCAA selection committee could give the Irish a top-seed over the Cardinals.
For this reason, winning the last four games is all the more important. Notre Dame has three losses, compared to Louisville’s two losses, so the Cards need to maintain every advantage moving into the postseason.
Roster-wise, the team looks ready as ever for a deep NCAA tournament run. Their loss to Miami was tough, true enough, but Louisville can continue getting better. Four players scored in double digits against the Hurricanes, including senior Asia Durr with 16 points.
Miami won with offensive efficiency, scoring more than the home team despite taking 29 less shots. Free throws helped too, as the Hurricanes had 19 points from the line to the Cardinals’ six.
If Louisville can tighten the offense, along with defending the paint better, the Cards should have the ability to top the ACC tournament and earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs.
You can follow the Louisville Cardinal on Twitter @thecardsports.
File Photo / The Louisville Cardinal