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Louisville’s NCAA tournament chances in doubt after another Virginia loss


NEW YORK — And now the waiting game begins.

For the second time in a week, the Louisville Cardinals lost to Virginia, the ACC’s regular season champs, in a game that they had to win if the dream of getting to an NCAA tournament in the worst year in the program’s history was going to come to fruition.

And while this Thursday’s 75-58 loss wasn’t as painful as last Thursday’s 67-66 defeat — a loss that came on a banked-in three at the buzzer of a game the Cardinals led 66-62 at home when they fouled a three-point shooter with 0.9 seconds left on the clock — it is what may have put the final nail in their tournament coffin.

The Cardinals entered Thursday sitting at No. 39 in the RPI, and while three really aren’t many negatives on their résumé — beyond, you know, the 14 losses — the issue is that they quite literally have not beaten anyone good. They are 0-11 against the RPI top 50. Their three Quadrant 1 wins came on the road against Florida State, Miami and Notre Dame. If there was anything that the Selection Committee showed us when they unveiled the top four seeds last month, it’s that they do value quality wins. They need you to prove you can beat good teams.

Can you really be that good if you can’t find a way to get a win over someone better than Florida State?

“Without a doubt,” interim head coach David Padgett said. “Unfortunately that’s not my decision. If you look at our overall body work we haven’t done anything wrong. I think that’s getting lost in the shuffle. People used to put a lot of weight in bad losses.”

“Maybe we haven’t done as much right, but not doing anything wrong is doing something right.”

We’ll find out if he’s right in roughly 72 hours.

Until then, Louisville fans are going to be sweating out every game played involving a bubble team. As of today, projects the Cardinals as having an 88.5 percent chance of getting into the NCAA tournament. That, however, doesn’t factor in the games that have yet to be played. Notre Dame probably jumps over the Cardinals with a win over Duke today. Oklahoma State has a chance to land a tourney-clinching win against Kansas. The same with Marquette against Villanova. And Baylor against West Virginia. And Texas against Texas Tech.

Then compare their profile to that of, say, Oklahoma, who has just as many losses and six Quadrant 1 wins to boot.

I saw all that to say this: The next three days are not going to be fun.

But the last three weeks have not been much fun for this program or the people that support it. Their 2013 national title banner came down. Six months ago, their Hall of Fame head coach was fired because he couldn’t withstand a pay for play scheme that the FBI unearthed during an investigation into corruption in college basketball that came on the heels of the NCAA handing down penalties for a scandal involving strippers, hookers and recruits in the basketball dorms.

That happens two and a half years ago.

It has been a long road for the Cardinals to get here.

And the question now is where it will lead, because the future of this program is very much unclear.

Let’s start with the obvious: They have an interim head coach, one that may or may not return next season. They are going to go through a coaching search, but having just finished with an NCAA investigation and with the potential of facing another one because of the money that was allegedly funneled to recruit Brian Bowen by Adidas at the request of Pitino, there is no real clarity on when Louisville will return to being Louisville again.

Even if they are able to hire, say, Xavier head coach Chris Mack or Wichita State head coach Gregg Marshall.

And that is assuming that the Cardinals get a coach of that caliber. There’s no guarantee that Mack or Marshall will say yes, at which point Louisville could find themselves faced with a choice between wildly overpaying for a guy that only kind of want, or rolling with Padgett in the short-term as a low-cost option to try and get them through the doldrums.

Their 2018 recruiting class has already been torched. How many guys currently on the roster are going to want to deal with the drama or risk potentially having to play through another postseason ban? This team has been through more than any team in recent memory, which is part of Padgett’s pitch to the Selection Committee.

“Their head coach that they came here to play for got relieved of his duties three days before practice starts,” Padgett said. “I coached the team by myself for three weeks. I’m not able to hire assistant coaches for the first month of the season. We have to deal with the distractions of a scandal that happened before most of them were even here. It just kind of goes on and on.”

“But hey, the way these guys, for being 18 to 22 years old, have handled it is absolutely remarkable. Whatever happens on Sunday, they deserve a ton of credit for that publicly, because so many times this year they could have just folded up and said, this is not why we came here. They could have felt sorry for themselves. And not one single time throughout the last four or five months did they do that. And I mean that with all sincerity. It’s been the most remarkable thing I’ve ever seen.”

Louisville is one of college basketball’s biggest and best brands.

They’ll be back at some point.

But regardless of whether or not there is good news at the end of this three-day window, whether or not Louisville ends up in the 2018 NCAA tournament, the waiting game for this fanbase has only just begun.

No upsets over here: No. 1 seed UConn women set scoring records in first round game

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The No. 1 overall seed on the men’s side of the NCAA tournament made history on Friday night.

They because the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the first round of the tournament, as Virginia lost to UMBC, if you were still unaware.

Over on the women’s side, the bracket is nowhere near as broken, because UConn’s women made history, too. They set NCAA tournament records for … well, almost everything it seems like.

The Huskies were up 55-19 at the end of the first quarter of their first round game against St. Francis (PA). Those 55 points are an NCAA tournament record. They held a 94-31 lead at the half, another NCAA tournament record, and held on to win 140-52.

The 140 points that Geno Auriemma’s team scored was an NCAA tournament record. The 88 points that they won by was one point short of an NCAA tournament record 89 points that was set by Baylor in a win over Texas Southern last season.

Oh, and the Huskies set the record for more assists in an NCAA tournament game — 38 — for good measure.

All in all, I think it’s safe to say that the fans in Storrs had a better weekend than the fans in Charlottesville. Hopefully, that will allow them to forget the fact that the men’s basketball program has become a laughing stock.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Maryland Governor calls UMBC upset, so does NBC Sports’ writer son

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Never before in the history of the NCAA tournament as a No. 16 seed upset a No. 1 seed.

That was until Friday night, when UMBC sent the No. 1 overall seed Virginia packing.

And if you thought no one had picked that upset, you were wrong.

Let’s start with the Maryland Governor, who was clearly a homer in picking UMBC to not only beat Virginia, but to win a national title:

Never say never, but … that’s never going to happen bud.

But how about this: My son, who is two years old and based his picks on his hard and fast rule of “all the doggies”, called this upset!

He also called Penn over Kansas, Fullerton over Purdue and Butler winning a national title, but whatever.

That bracket is actually pretty good!

VIDEO: Virginia’s Ty Jerome does not appreciate dumb question after UMBC loss

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You have to give Virginia some credit.

After losing to No. 16 seed UMBC in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the players on that roster faced the music. They went up to the dais and answered question from reporters on national television.

There is no way they enjoyed that.

And you can tell because Ty Jerome had absolutely no interest in answering dumb questions from reporters:

He was not amused.

2018 NCAA Tournament: Saturday’s betting lines, point spreads, over-unders

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Here is the full TV schedule, with spreads, over-unders and betting lines, for every game for the first four days of the NCAA tournament.

(Lines are updated for Saturday morning.)

Pittsburgh: Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner and Dana Jacobson

  • 12:10 p.m.: No. 1 Villanova (-11.5) vs. No. 9 Alabama, CBS (149.5)
  • 2:40 p.m.: No. 2 Duke (-9.5) vs. No. 7 Rhode Island, CBS (149)

Boise: Brian Anderson, Chris Webber and Lisa Byington

  • 5:15 p.m.: No. 5 Kentucky (-5.5) vs. No. 13 Buffalo, CBS (155)
  • 7:45 p.m.: No. 4 Gonzaga (-4) vs. No. 5 Ohio State, CBS (141.5)

Dallas: Spero Dedes, Steve Smith, Len Elmore and Ros Gold-Onwude

  • 6:10 p.m.: No. 3 Tennessee (-5) vs. No. 11 Loyola (Chicago), TNT (131.5)
  • 8:40: No. 3 Texas Tech (-1.5) vs. No. 6 Florida, TNT (133.5)

Wichita: Brad Nessler, Steve Lavin and Evan Washburn

  • 7:10 p.m.: No. 1 Kansas (-4.5) vs. No. 8 Seton Hall, TBS (154.5)
  • 9:40 p.m.: No. 3 Michigan (-3) vs. No. 6 Houston, TBS (135)

March Madness betting odds and national title futures

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With Virginia falling out of the NCAA tournament after losing to UMBC, here are the updated national title futures and betting odds in the NCAA tournament.

Odds via

Villanova: 5/1
Duke: 11/2
Michigan State: 7/1
Michigan: 8/1
Kansas: 10/1
Cincinnati: 12/1
Kentucky: 12/1
North Carolina: 12/1
Purdue: 12/1
Xavier: 14/1
Gonzaga: 15/1
Tennessee: 25/1
West Virginia: 25/1
Texas Tech: 40/1
Auburn: 50/1
Florida: 50/1
Houston: 50/1
Ohio State: 60/1
Rhode Island: 75/1
Seton Hall: 75/1
Alabama: 100/1
Clemson: 100/1
Kansas State: 100/1
Nevada: 100/1
Syracuse: 100/1
Texas A&M: 100/1
Buffalo: 150/1
Butler: 150/1
Florida State: 150/1
Loyola Chicago: 150/1
Marshall: 300/1
UMBC: 500/1