LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — In Las Vegas, you can get a price of 100-to-1 if you believe the University of Louisville will win the 2019 NCAA men's basketball tournament.
But before you collect, the Cardinals will have to win six consecutive games, starting with their NCAA opener against Minnesota, which is coached by Richard Pitino, son of former U of L coach Rick Pitino. The game will be Thursday in Des Moines, Iowa.
In his first season at U of L, coach Chris Mack led his team to the No. 7 seed in the East Regional. If Louisville wins its opener, the Cards will play the No. 2 seed, Michigan State, in the second round. Louisville defeated Michigan State, 82-78, in overtime at the KFC Yum! Center Nov. 27.
The top seed in the regional is Duke.
Louisville finished the regular season 20-13 after losing to North Carolina in the quarter-finals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Thursday.
The Cards earned their No. 7 seed with regular-season victories over UNC, Michigan State and Seton Hall.
After starting 16-5 and 7-1 in league play, Louisville struggled down the stretch, losing eight of their last 12 games. Louisville has not won back-to-back games since the Cards celebrated a six-game winning streak with a victory at Wake Forest Jan. 30.
This will be Louisville’s first NCAA appearance since 2017. Although the Cards also delivered a 20-13 regular-season record last season, their resume lacked quality wins. Louisville won two games in the NIT last winter under interim coach David Padgett.
In 2017, Louisville won a first-round NCAA game against Jacksonville State before they were beaten by Michigan. It was Rick Pitino's final game as the Cards' head coach.
Louisville is making its 39th NCAA Tournament appearance, a total that does not include two vacated trips in 2012 and 2013. It has reached eight Final Fours, not counting those vacated trips, and won two championships, in 1980 and 1986.
Louisville is credited with 61 NCAA Tournament victories, ninth all time, one ahead of Villanova and three behind Syracuse.
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