CRAWFORD | Bubble watching: Padgett says Louisville has earned NCAA Tournament bid
The University of Louisville basketball team failed to get its signature win against Virginia on Thursday, but Cardinals' coach David Padgett still thinks his team has done enough to make the 68-team NCAA Tournament field.
BROOKLYN, N.Y. (WDRB) – So are they in or out? That’s the question that will hang over the University of Louisville men’s basketball program until the NCAA Selection Sunday program airs in roughly 72 hours.
Louisville players voiced confidence that they would be in the NCAA field of 68 when it is announced on Sunday. Bracketologists are less certain. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi had them as the last team in the field, playing an opening-round game in Dayton, Ohio, before Thursday’s loss gave them their 11th RPI top 50 loss without a win in the index (before it was updated after Thursday’s games).
A fact that could weigh in Louisville’s favor: No 20-win Louisville team has been left out of the NCAA Tournament field since it expanded to 48 teams in 1980. The 1975-76 team that won 20 games went to the NIT, but that was when the NCAA field was only 32 teams.
If it were up to Louisville interim coach David Padgett, of course, his team would be in. He says the Cardinals have earned that opportunity. He made his case before leaving Brooklyn on Thursday.
“Unfortunately that's not my decision, but if you look at our overall body of work, we haven't done anything wrong,” Padgett said. “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.”
Louisville players said they weren’t going to be fretting the issue between now and Selection Sunday. Among the teams that could pose problems for their bubble position are Arizona State, Baylor, Alabama, Notre Dame, Marquette, Oklahoma State and maybe others.
“We think we’re in,” sophomore Ryan McMahon said. “Our entire body of work and all the adversity we’ve been through this year, we still believe we’re playing great ball, and nobody wants to see us, in the country.”
Anas Mahmoud said, “My opinion is biased. I’m on the team. But I think we should make it. I don’t know how the committee chooses anybody, but I think we should have no problem.”
Padgett said the team will watch the selection announcement together, but won’t have media present.
“We've got to wait. Today is Thursday. We've got to wait about 72 hours before we find out, just like quite a few other teams in the country,” he said. “You know, what we're going to do on Sunday will stay between us. We haven't officially decided anything yet, but more than anything, these 14 players, with everything that they've been through this year, you can't tell me that they don't deserve an opportunity to play in the NCAA Tournament. It's been a year of ups and downs, so unfortunately that decision is out of our control, but I hope it goes in the right way for their sake and their sake alone.”
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