Selection Sunday is finally here, and the Louisville men’s basketball team is on the bubble ahead of the first NCAA Tournament since 2019. The Cards lasted just one game in the ACC Tournament, after losing to Duke in Greensboro. Even just one win in the conference tournament would have probably solidified Louisville as an NCAA Tournament team. Now, they are forced to sweat it out on Sunday.
Overall Record: 13-7
ACC Record: 8-5
Quadrant-1 Record: 1-6
Quadrant-2 Record: 6-0
Bad Losses: @ Miami (quad-3)
AP Poll: unranked
Coaches Poll: unranked
NCAA NET: 56
The glaring lack of notable wins is why Louisville sees itself on the bubble. The ACC was down yet again this season, and COVID-19 played a part in cancelling more than a couple quad-1 games, but the Cards still had seven opportunities and only won one of them. Their computer rankings are dramatically affected by the two losses at Wisconsin and North Carolina, which both came right after an extended pause. The good news is that Louisville was perfect against the second quadrant and only took one bad loss all season.
“Bid stealers” or “bid thieves” are teams from multi-bid conferences who win their conference tournament, but were not previously expected to receive an at-large bid. This year, there are 37 at-large bids available. Every bid stealer essentially trims that number down by one. Entering Sunday, there have already been two confirmed bid thieves, with another one still to play.
Georgetown (confirmed): The Hoyas (13-12, 7-9) won four straight games en route to a Big East Tournament title. They entered this week with a 9-12 overall record as the 8-seed in the conference.
Oregon State (confirmed): The Beavers (17-12, 10-10) finished 7th in the Pac-12 standings before running the table in the conference tournament, upsetting UCLA, Oregon, and Colorado along the way.
Cincinnati: At 12-10, the Bearcats will need to upset no. 7 Houston on Sunday in the AAC Championship game in order to steal a bid.
VCU/St. Bonaventure: Sunday’s A-10 title game matches up two teams who will be eager to secure an auto-bid. Both the Rams and the Bonnies have strong at-large cases, but neither is a lock entering Selection Sunday. They are both projected as double-digit seeds just about anywhere you look. St. Bonaventure is the ideal champion for Louisville, because VCU has the weaker resume and is much more likely to be left out of the field as an at-large.
With two confirmed bid stealers, the at-large field has shrunk by two spots. Louisville has been projected among the “last four byes” by the majority of bracketologists for a couple weeks, but now they have fallen into the “last four in” on a number of sites. Bubble teams all over the nation will be cheering for Houston today. Both A-10 finalists are probably in the field no matter what, but VCU is at least on the bubble and would not be a guaranteed at-large. The reality is that someone is going to get left out in order to make room for the bid thieves. The fewer of them, the better.
Notable Bracket Projections as of Sunday 3/14 (Links Included)
ESPN: 11-seed (Last Four In)
NCAA.com: 11-seed (Last Four In)
Bracketville: 11-seed (Last Four Byes)
Heat Check CBB: 12-seed (Last Four In)
SB Nation: 11-seed (Last Four In)
Three Man Weave: 12-seed (Last Four In)
TeamRankings: 10-seed (40th Overall)
BracketMatrix Aggregator: 11-seed (Last Four In)
Cardinal fans can take comfort in the fact that just about every major bracket projection online has Louisville in the field. Still, there are a few reasons to be concerned about the resume, and there are normally a couple teams that are surprisingly left out. I do not think anyone truly knows what will happen with Louisville on Sunday night. They have looked like a tournament caliber team for the majority of the year, but COVID-19 has had an undeniable effect on this season. Louisville probably gets into the field, but it might be closer than most think.
The Selection Show airs live on CBS at 6:00 p.m. ET Sunday night.
Louisville narrowly makes it into the field of 68 as an 11-seed, playing in the First Four on Thursday night.