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How Louisville missed the NCAA tournament and where the program goes from here

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For the first time since 2011, the Cardinals will not be participating in the postseason

Photo by Steven Branscombe/USA Today Sports

After dropping 11 of their last 16 games, the Cardinals RPI fell all the way to 74 after being eliminated from the ACC Tournament by Georgia Tech on Thursday. Although they had 17 wins against Q1 and Q2 teams, a low RPI combined with a SOS of 62, did not warrant a NCAA tournament bid.

Louisville finished with a record of 28-22 (16-16 ACC) and lost quite a few head scratchers along the way. The second week of the season, Western Illinois took the first game of a three game series at Jim Patterson Stadium. Western Illinois finished 259th in the RPI.

The following week, Louisville hosted Morehead State and the Golden Eagles took care of business. They finished 139th in the RPI.

The Cardinals traveled to Richmond as part of a home-and-home with EKU and returned to Louisville with a loss against a Colonels team ranked 199th in the RPI.

That being said, Louisville was widely considered as a regional host when D1 Baseball and Baseball America released their projected fields on April 28th. D1 Baseball tabbed the Cards as the #15 overall seed while Baseball American had Louisville as the #5 seed.

Just a measly 33 days ago, Louisville was hosting a regional. Now they are not even in the tournament.

So, what happened?

With a .283 batting average, no Louisville team has batted that low since 2015.

Although the pitching staff suffered numerous injuries, pauses due to Covid, etc., they boasted a 5.00 ERA, the highest team ERA in the previous seven seasons.

The teams .969 fielding percentage is the second lowest of the previous seven seasons.

This is the first time since Dan McDonnell has been a head coach that his team finished at or below .500 in conference.

What’s next?

Louisville has a lot of talent to replace. Henry Davis will be a top pick in the upcoming MLB Draft. Alex Binelas is gone. Michael Kirian will be moving on. Adam Elliott, who has played at Louisville for almost a decade, will be playing pro ball as well. Although Levi Usher did not have the year he hoped, he is still a highly regarded prospect. The list goes on and on.

Fortunately, Coach McDonnell does not waste any time rebuilding, his program reloads. The next three classes are ranked in the top seven in the nation by Perfect Game.

Off-season Drama

It has become a summer ritual for Coach McDonnell’s name to come up in nearly every high profile coaching vacancy. Before Selection Sunday, his name was already tossed around after Paul Mainieri resigned from his position at LSU.

After meeting with Mississippi State in 2018, Coach McDonnell made the decision to return to Louisville. LSU is different. They have six national championships, Mississippi State has zero, but the expectations are higher.

The administration at LSU has made it clear they want a big time coach and are willing to drop some coin to get their guy. Reports have come out that they are interested in Tim Corbin from Vanderbilt and Kevin O’Sullivan from Florida.

The season is still far from over and the coaches LSU wants to speak with could be playing for a few more weeks. Vince Tyra may not have any fingernails left by the time this search is over.

In Dan we trust.