Although the Louisville Cardinals fell painstakingly short of the NCAA tournament, the season isn’t over because the school accepted a bid to the NIT. The players, however, viewed the season as NCAA or bust.
According to Jeff Greer of the Courier Journal, the team voted against competing in the NIT prior to the ACC tournament. The Cardinals also held a players-only meeting Sunday after finding out they hadn’t made the Big Dance.
“Louisville’s players are emotionally exhausted from a trying, tumultuous six months that culminated with the devastation of not being included in the NCAA Tournament in Sunday’s bracket reveal,” Greer reported.
Shortly before the season, the university removed head coach Rick Pitino from his position due to a direct link to the ongoing FBI investigation.
David Padgett took over as the interim boss and led Louisville to a 20-13 record, including 9-9 in the ACC. But that wasn’t enough for the selection committee to include the Cardinals, who cost themselves a near-certain at-large berth with a stunning collapse against Virginia in the penultimate game of the regular season.
It’s understandable that the players are ready to move on from 2017-18, but they’ll return to the court Thursday as a No. 2 seed opposite No. 7 Northern Kentucky.