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Lackluster Louisville falls at NC State, 76-69

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The Cardinals now find themselves in a do or die situation heading to Brooklyn.

Louisville v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Heartbreak rolled into frustration for Louisville basketball on Saturday.

Playing just two evenings after an unfathomable last-second loss to No. 1 Virginia, the Cardinals turned the ball over 15 times and fell 76-69 at NC State in a game they could ill-afford to lose

The loss means Louisville misses out on being the No. 6 seed in the ACC tournament with a dream draw of facing the winner of Syracuse/Wake Forest and Clemson waiting for the winner in the quarterfinals. Instead, the Cardinals will be the No. 9 seed in the tournament. They’ll face Florida State at noon on Wednesday, and then would get a third shot at top-seeded Virginia on Thursday if they were to advance.

It felt like Louisville gave two games away in two very different manners this week.

Virginia was a tremendous total game effort that was given away via series of inexplicable mental errors in the final moments. Tonight, Louisville gave a win by not bringing same focus, energy and effort that they did against Virginia. If that had happened, U of L knocks off an NC State team that didn’t play especially well themselves, and the Cards are likely headed to the NCAA tournament.

Instead, Louisville failed to value its offensive possessions until it realized it was comfortably behind with little time to play. It made inexcusable mental errors on defense when it needed stops the most. And there were guys who, to put it bluntly, played selfish basketball at times when that was the last thing the team could afford to have happen.

Unless this team picks itself up and comes to Brooklyn with a mindset totally different than the one it had tonight, it’s going to let itself be forever defined by one remarkably embarrassing loss. I really hope that doesn’t happen.