Twitter jokes about wild conspiracy theory over Louisville NCAA Tournament snub
The Louisville Cardinals were the first team out of the NCAA Tournament field, and some people have a pretty crazy theory behind why.
Despite finishing seventh in the ACC — above a Syracuse team that made the field — the Cardinals were named as the first alternate for the tournament field. They were excluded from the field of 68. Given some of the bubble teams that made it in, this came as a surprise, but many quickly joked that there was a perfect conspiracy theory to explain it.
The head of this year’s selection committee was none other than Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart. The Wildcats and Cardinals are, of course, major rivals, and Twitter had a blast with the implications.
Mitch Barnhart when he successfully keeps Louisville out of a tournament pic.twitter.com/mXFvZPcdhR
— Ben Mattingly (@ben_mattingly) March 14, 2021
— Ben Donlon (@has_ben) March 14, 2021
Selection Committee: Barnhart, what do you think about putting Louisville in?
— Eric Turner (@ericturner45) March 14, 2021
Me: Louisville didn’t make the NCAA Tournament?
CBS: “Next we interview the Chairman of the NCAA Selection Committee, KENTUCKY Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart”
— Coach Nick (@hoopsbynick) March 14, 2021
You know, I'd actually gain a lot of respect for Barnhart if he just said, "yeah Louisville isn't in bc I was the chair. No way I was gonna let them in as our rival."
— Sleve McDichael (@Evil_Ed83) March 14, 2021
Note that there are definitely some Louisville fans who think Barnhart had his hand in something nefarious. Ultimately, there were legitimate reasons for the Cardinals’ exclusion. Louisville finished poorly, losing three of its last five games, including a 14-point loss to Duke in the ACC Tournament. Given how poor Duke was this season, that was a brutal loss, and the Cardinals probably make the field if they avoid that. Plus, teams like Georgetown and Oregon State would not have made the field, but nabbed automatic bids through surprise wins in their conference tournaments. Those also cost Louisville dearly.
The Cardinals may yet make it in, though — if a school from a multi-bid conference is forced to withdraw before Tuesday due to health issues, Louisville will be called in to replace them. That’s little consolation right now, though.
Believe it or not, this is not the first time Louisville has been caught up in an NCAA Tournament conspiracy theory.