Louisville’s 13 game non-conference season has come to a close, with the Cardinals winning nine games and losing four. Before U of L hits the court on Sunday for the first time in ACC play, let’s see what their NCAA tournament resume looks like following the first two months of the season.
If you had forgotten how the quadrant system for evaluating wins worked (God bless you), here’s a quick refresher and a reminder that the Selection Committee will be using the NCAA’s new NET rankings this year, and not the RPI.
Quadrant 1: Games at home vs teams ranked 1-30 in the NET, Neutral vs 1-50, Road vs 1-75
Quadrant 2: Home vs 31-75, Neutral vs 51-100, Road vs 76-135
Quadrant 3: Home vs 76-160, Neutral vs 101-200, Road vs 136-240
Quadrant 4: Home vs 161+, Neutral vs 201+, Road vs 241+
You can see the full NET Rankings — where Louisville is currently No. 27 — right here
And here’s what Louisville’s current resume looks like:
Quadrant 1: 2-4 (Michigan State, Seton Hall)
Quadrant 2: 1-0 (Lipscomb)
Quadrant 3: 2-0 (Kent State, Vermont)
Quadrant 4: 4-0 (Southern, Nicholls, Central Arkansas, Robert Morris)
A few notes:
—Louisville was 10-3 when it entered league play but didn’t have a single Quadrant 1 or Quadrant 2 victory. Heading into Selection Sunday, the Cards were 0-10 against the top 50 of the RPI, 3-8 in Quadrant 1 games and 2-5 in Quadrant 2 games. So, even with the four losses, it’s not hard to argue that U of L has given itself a much stronger cushion heading into league play than it had a year ago.
—The Atlantic Sun is a bottom 10 conference, so it wouldn’t be a shock for Lipscomb (currently No. 36) to fall out of the top 75 and for that win to drop from Quadrant 2 to Quadrant 3, especially if the Bisons take a couple bad losses in league play.
—The good news is every one of Louisville’s Q1 games seems like a safe bet to still be in that category three months from now. Seton Hall (46) is currently the lowest rated of those six teams, but since the Cards won that game on the road, the Pirates would have to fall all the way out of the top 75 for that to no longer register as a Q1 win.
—The only other potential move is Kent State, which is currently No. 97, but plays in a MAC that can currently claim two top 50 teams (Buffalo and Toledo). If the Golden Flashes overachieve during league play, that could be a win that looks even better for Louisville.
—The Q4 wins are all against teams that are solidly Q4 and won’t be changing.
A lot of people last year kept saying “get to 9-9 in the ACC and you’re automatically in” or “get to 20 wins and they won’t keep you out.” It’s never that black and white, and Louisville not having the right combination of wins to get to those marks wound up keeping it out of the NCAA tournament.
With this resume and the schedule the Cards are staring down in the ACC, it’s hard to envision U of L getting left out of the field of 68 if they can make it back to .500 in league play again. Assuming at least two of the wins come against obvious at-large teams, then I think 9-9 is a much safer bar to set this season than it was a year ago.
They should go ahead and win all 18 and the league tournament just to be safe though.