Walz bench

Louisville coach Jeff Walz instructs his team from the bench during its win over Pittsburgh.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The University of Louisville women’s basketball team is slated to be a No. 1 seed for the second straight year and the second time in its history, according to the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament seed list revealed by the selection committee on Monday.

The challenge now for the No. 2-ranked Cardinals is to stay on the top line.

Baylor would be the No. 1 overall seed if the season ended today, according to Monday’s reveal, followed by Louisville, Oregon and Mississippi State.

Louisville would go to the Chicago region, according to the committee, with Baylor in Greensboro, Oregon in Portland and Mississippi State in Albany. The top four seeds in Chicago would be Louisville, Stanford, Marquette and Iowa State.

Lest the Cardinals think their work is done, however, they only need look to the rest of the seed list.

The 5-16 teams on the list, in order: UConn, Notre Dame, Stanford, N.C. State, Marquette, Iowa, Oregon State, South Carolina, Gonzaga, Iowa State and Miami.

Louisville will play Miami this weekend, and still must face N.C State at home. And should they get through the ACC Tournament, could face Notre Dame again.

Still, with five regular season games remaining, Louisville coach Jeff Walz says his team should see a rare opportunity at an ACC title, and sharpen its focus in the coming weeks. He’s not advocating they look ahead, by any means, but he is saying they should sense a special opportunity and allow that to raise their efforts.

“That ballgame Sunday (against Miami) is huge for us,” Walz told Nick Curran on his postgame radio program after Saturday’s win at Virginia Tech. “I just told our kids, we have five games left, three at home. Two on the road, which obviously are going to be tough, but against a Virginia team that we handled at home and Pitt, but it’s two you can’t just walk into thinking they’re not going to try. But if we can take care of our business at home with an unbelievable Miami team and an N.C. State team that’s pretty darn good, then you’ve got a chance to win the league. And it’s not easily done. And it would be a great accomplishment for these young women to be back-to-back ACC regular season champs.”

Louisville appeared on its way to another dominant victory with a 20-point lead in the second half at Virginia Tech before its offense stalled and the Hokies came back, pulling within three at one point.

Still, Walz said he wasn’t going to call timeout to regroup. He refused to call one the game before when his team saw a lead dwindle at home against Syracuse – “I’ll lose before I bail them out because they’re not going to play hard.”

Again at Virginia Tech, Walz rolled the dice, with the Hokies seizing momentum with an 11-0 run. He said he does it with a purpose, and with the NCAA Tournament in mind.

“I was not going to call timeout,” he told Curran. “I’m sticking with that for a while, because I need for them to start figuring things out by themselves and not get emotionally caught up in what’s going on. They need to say to themselves, ‘We need to execute, we need to score.’ Because once you get in the NCAA Tournament – and sure, I would’ve called a timeout in the NCAA Tournament – but I’m hoping once it gets there I’m not going to need to, because they can handle it themselves. And then, I want to have two timeouts at least, left for that last minute of a game, because you can advance the ball. If I’m going to call timeout because every team goes on a 6- or 8-point run, I won’t have many.”

Of course, the team won’t have Walz at all in their first NCAA Tournament game – because of a rare NCAA decision to suspend Walz for comments he made in the vicinity of tournament officials after a no call on a Myisha Hines-Allen layup in the closing seconds of regulation in Louisville’s Final Four loss to Mississippi State. The NCAA has not commented on that call.

Walz and the Cardinals have a chance to get back to that point. And being a No. 1 seed would be a big part of that. But as Walz has said, regardless of where the NCAA projections on Monday put his team, they still have some significant work to do.

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