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.
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.
Chris Mack fired back at John Calipari on Tuesday about this year’s Kentucky-Louisville game.
Last week, Mack expressed reservations about playing Louisville’s annual rivalry game with Kentucky. He said he wasn’t sure the game would happen because he felt it would be unfair for Louisville to get a home game this year with limited or no fans, only to go to Lexington the following year with fans.
“I don’t know [if the Kentucky game will happen,” Mack said on ‘Full Court Press with Fanta and Adams’ last week. “Where is the equity of Kentucky coming here in front of no fans, and then having to go to Rupp Arena in front of 21,000 fans? We recognize that it’s the best rivalry – I know I’m biased – in all of college basketball.”
Mack said he preferred to do a neutral site game this year and then get their home game next year.
“We’re not afraid to play anybody. We’ll play the game at a neutral site. If it screws up their schedule next year, we’ll play two neutral games in a row. There are a lot of logistics that go into scheduling so I’m not trying to throw it all on UK, but we don’t want the rivalry or the game to end,” Mack said to the Louisville Courier Journal.
Earlier on Tuesday, Calipari said Kentucky had a backup plan in case Louisville pulls out of the game.
“I know there was a question on the Louisville game but we have a date and a time unless that changes, if they choose not to play and we’ll plug in another team. We already have that team set,” Calipari told reporters, via Kentucky Sports Radio.
Mack wasn’t about to be made to look like a fool and like his program was preventing the game.
Later in the day, Mack responded with a great video he posted on Twitter. He laid out the entire background to the situation.
Mack says they had a Dec. 12 mutually-agreed upon date to play the game. He says Kentucky backed out of that date because they were returning from London a week earlier and felt the Louisville game would be too soon. Kentucky’s London trip got canceled, and the Wildcats scheduled Notre Dame for Dec. 12 instead.
Mack also says they honored Cincinnati’s request to move a rivalry game between the teams to a neutral site for this year. Then he took a sarcastic shot at Kentucky.
“I don’t want to stand in the way of college basketball’s best rivalry. Whatever is most convenient for Coach Cal, we’ll do it!” Mack said.
Neither school’s schedule for this season has been released yet.
We knew that Mack could be an intense guy at times. He just took that to a new level.
The health of college basketball has seemingly been in decline the last few years as top players have chosen to bypass college ball before moving on to the NBA. On Thursday, another blow was dealt to college basketball when top prospect Jalen Green announced he would be joining a G League team in Los Angeles rather than go to college.
Even if the move signifies a bad trend for college hoops, Louisville head coach Chris Mack is not worried.
Mack tweeted on Thursday that there are plenty of unheralded recruits who shine in college basketball, meaning the sport will be fine.
True enough, players mature and develop at different ages, and there are so many roster spots in college basketball that players will still emerge. But many of these young players have already begun developing fan bases and followings via social media while in high school and theoretically may be able to ease into the pros easier without needing the college spotlight to build attention.
It’s too early to say how things will be in the future. And while college basketball is not dead and they will still have many good players, seeing top players choose the G League instead might not be a great thing for the sport.
It’s hard to believe we’re nearing college basketball’s home stretch already. Conference play seemingly just started, but teams are already separating themselves in the standings and making their case for tournament bids and seeds. With the entirety of non-conference play in the rearview mirror, the Selection Committee already has a large portion of the information that will lead to the bracket that is revealed in mid-March.
Even though there are plenty of games left on the schedule and a pile things to be decided, for something as prestigious as a No. 1 seed, the crop of contenders has already whittled down to just a handful of teams. These eight teams have the best chances to secure a spot atop one of March Madness’ four regions.
Despite similar talent levels and performance this season, Louisville edges Dayton for the last spot on this list. As good as the Flyers have been, they face the unfortunate reality of playing in a mid-major conference. To reach the top line from a non-power conference, the committee expects near perfection. No Atlantic-10 team has even been a 3-seed in March since Xavier did so all the way back in 2008. The ACC meanwhile has had nine top seeds since expanding to its current size in 2015, with at least one team from the conference earning a No. 1 each of those five years. Louisville has laid the groundwork, with wins over Akron, Michigan, and a crucial victory at Duke. If the Cards can hold serve the rest of the way in conference play, they’ll have a chance to earn a top seed during the ACC Tournament.
The college basketball season is only a little over a month old, and there have already been four No. 1 teams to lose. On Tuesday night, the latest team was added to the list as part of a night of upsets to top-ranked teams.
The Louisville Cardinals fell 70-57 to Texas Tech in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. The Cardinals were down by three at the half before falling behind in the second half and losing by 13. They shot just 34 percent from the floor (18/53) while being defended by Chris Beard’s tough defense. Tech was led by Davide Moretti’s 18 points and won the game despite Jahmi’us Ramsey missing his third straight game due to his hamstring.
Louisville, now 9-1, joins Michigan State, Kentucky and Duke as the No. 1-ranked teams to lose this season. The win marked Texas Tech’s first against a No. 1-ranked team.
Earlier in the evening, there was another upset.
No. 4 Maryland lost on the road in a Big Ten game against Penn State 76-69. The Nittany Lions (8-2, 1-1) shot 42.6 percent from the field and became the fifth unranked team to beat a top-5 squad this season. They had balanced scoring — five players were in double figures — including Lamar Stevens and Mike Watkins, who each had 15 to lead the way.
Maryland is now 10-1 and 1-1 in conference play.
Louisville was in position to pull off a huge upset against Duke on Tuesday night before blowing a 23-point lead, and head coach Chris Mack is asking fans to stick with the team in the wake of the disastrous collapse.
The Cardinals, who are currently ranked 16th in the nation, were completely in control late in the second half before Mike Krzyzewski’s team came storming back to win 71-69. Mack told reporters after the game that he was “stunned” by the result, and he later took to Twitter to address the brutal loss.
Mack’s first season at Louisville has had some ups and downs, which was to be expected after the team moved on from Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino. The Cardinals have played four straight games against ranked opponents and lost three of them. While we already saw a glimpse of Mack’s temper during that stretch, few losses in his career will sting more than Tuesday night’s.
Louisville is now 5th in the ACC with an overall record of 17-8 and a conference record of 8-3, and two of those losses came against Duke and UNC. They’re still in solid shape going forward, but the way they bounce back after such a deflating loss will say a lot about what the team is made of.
The federal investigation into corruption in the college basketball world is continuing, and now more schools and players have been implicated.
Prosecutors have filed counts against former Adidas representative Jim Gatto that alleges he made payments to former players at Louisville, Miami, Kansas and NC State. Here’s the release from the New York District Attorney’s office on the matter:
Dan Wetzel reports that Dennis Smith Jr. and Josh Jackson Jr. are among the former players accused of receiving payments.
Gatto and Adidas are accused of bribing players/families of the players to persuade them to attend schools that had athletic apparel deals with Adidas. Louisville had already been accused of paying $100,000 to secure a commitment from recruit Brian Bowen, who did not end up playing for the school.
Chris Mack has reportedly agreed to a deal with Louisville to become the school’s next men’s basketball coach.
According to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Mack has reached a seven-year deal with Louisville that is expected to pay him around $4 million annually. The Xavier coach informed his current players on Tuesday that he has accepted the job.
Mack has been the head coach at Xavier for the past nine seasons, compiling a record of 212-96 and reaching the NCAA Tournament eight times. The 48-year-old’s wife, Christi, grew up in Louisville and has family that still resides there.
Louisville, of course, is hoping Mack can help clean up the mess left behind by Rick Pitino and the previous Cardinals regime. Louisville was forced to vacate all of its wins from 2012-2015, including its 2013 national championship. Those sanctions stemmed from a sex scandal involving recruits and had nothing to do with the FBI’s ongoing probe into college basketball, which also involves Louisville.
The Louisville Cardinals are trying to move past the mess they’re in with a splashy head coaching hire.
ESPN’s Dick Vitale hears that Xavier coach Chris Mack is likely to be the next coach at Louisville, perhaps as soon as this week.
Owing to the previous regime, this is a program in flux. Mack has a record of success at Louisville, going 212-96 over nine seasons, though he’s only been past the Sweet 16 once.
Louisville players feel like they were snubbed from the NCAA Tournament after they went 20-13 and beat some quality opponents, and they apparently do not want to compete for the NIT title as a consolation prize.
Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier Journal reports that Louisville’s players voted against playing in the NIT Tournament, but school officials accepted the invitation anyway. The players reportedly voted on the NIT before the ACC Tournament and held a players-only meeting after they were left out of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday night, though it’s unclear what was discussed at the meeting.
Louisville players are said to be “emotionally exhausted” after a season that was overshadowed by more than one scandal and former head coach Rick Pitino being fired. Sanctions from a recruiting scandal involving strippers being paid for sex acts were handed down last month, and the Cardinals were forced by the NCAA to vacate 123 victories from 2012-2015, including their 2013 national championship.
Aside from that, Louisville is also involved in the FBI’s investigation into widespread fraud and illegal recruiting across college basketball.
Interim athletic director Vince Tyra said on “The Deener Show” on WHBE-680 last week that Louisville accepted the NIT invitation before knowing if they would have a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
“They send the invite, and you have to do it in parallel, that if you do fall to the NIT, that you will indeed accept the bid,” he said. “So we will play if there is that opportunity. I hope there isn’t. … But if indeed that does happen, we would play.”
Louisville players said they believed they deserved an at-large bid in the dance, and a conspiracy theory that circulated on Sunday indicated they are not alone in thinking that.