Louisville entered the Big East Tournament slumping, losers of four of their last six games. But after winning four straight games at Madison Square Garden to win the Big East championship, Rick Pitino's Cardinals enter Selection Sunday as one of the hottest teams in the nation.
The big question now is where Louisville fits into the NCAA Tournament picture?
Before their surprising run to the Big East title, Louisville was staring at a five or six seed in the Big Dance. Now, after wins over Seton Hall, Marquette, Notre Dame and Cincinnati in New York, the Cardinals have made a strong case for a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.There's precedent for such a rise for a surging Big East champion. Last year, UConn entered the Big East tourney 9-9 in league play, but made a dramatic rise to a three-seed in the NCAA's after winning five games in five days. Louisville finished the Big East regular-season with a better regular-season record (10-8) than the Huskies -- 14-8 over when their tournament wins are added to the total.
Before Louisville's title win, RealTimeRPI.com had the Cardinals No. 18 in the RPI with the nation's 8th toughest schedule. Louisville's tournament resume includes wins over five conference champions: Long Beach State (Big West), Memphis (Conference USA), Ohio (Mid-American Conference), Western Kentucky (Sun Belt), Lamar (Southland). Louisville also beat Vanderbilt, who will play Kentucky on Sunday for the SEC title.
Just how strong was Louisville's non-conference schedule? Seven of the 13 non-league foes will play in the NCAA Tournament. Overall, Rick Pitino's team enters the NCAA Tournament with 13 victories over team that will play in the Big Dance.
Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com projects Louisville as the No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region facing South Dakota State in the first round in Columbus, Ohio. ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi has Louisville as the No. 4 in the South Region playing NC State/Drexel in Nashville.
The Selection Show airs on CBS at 6:00.