Despite losing 5 of its 18 games, Louisville (12-5-1) earned a favorable 10 seed as an at-large team in today's 2012 NCAA tournament draw, presumably on the strength of its schedule. The Cards will face the winner of the Winthrop-SMU match on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 7:00 p.m. in Cardinal Park.
While Louisville's non-conference win-loss record isn't as sexy as he'd like, Coach Ken Lolla will field one of the most tested teams in the tournament. U of L faced 6 of the other 15 seeded teams this year--recording a 2-3-1 record in those games--and finished with a 9-1 mark in conference play, winning the Red Division regular season title before losing to Marquette in the Big East tournament's first round. This also marks the third straight top sixteen seed and sixth straight NCAA tournament appearance for Lolla at Louisville. Not terrible.
Looking at the bracket, Louisville's draw is pretty generous considering their #16 ranking in the coaches poll and 13th rating in the RPI. If successful in their second round game vs. the Winthrop-SMU winner, the Cards could hypothetically play at 7 seed Marquette and then either 15 seed Wake Forest or 2 seed Maryland in successive rounds, all teams Louisville saw earlier this season. U of L's record was 1-2 in those games with the lone win coming at home vs. Wake Forest.
Like college hoops, a selection committee determines the field of 48 in Division I soccer and how you finish the season is important to those subjective eyeballs. Louisville's assuring turnaround after a disappointing 4-5 start is a big reason why they're opening another postseason at home. Typically, strong defensive teams have the biggest advantage at this level of soccer and U of L can credit Lolla's midseason switch to goalkeeper Mike Mauro for a large part of the dramatic u-turn. Couple that with Big East Defensive Player of the Year Andrew Farrell's all-conference level play in the back and there's reason to feel pretty optimistic about the Cards' chances at another deep tournament run.
Ticket information for Sunday's NCAA Tournament game via GoCards.com:
Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for youths, students and senior citizens. Tickets will go on sale at 9:00 a.m. [this Tuesday] at the athletic ticket offices. You can also call the athletic ticket office at 852-5151 for tickets. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $4.