This season reminds a lot of us Louisville women’s basketball fans of the 2012-2013 team, “The Year of the Cardinal.” I can remember it all like it was yesterday, less gray in my beard and my knee didn’t hurt as bad when I got up from sitting down for more than 45 minutes. More importantly, Louisville athletics was at an all-time peak. Louisville football was electric finishing 11-2 (5-2 in conference), appropriately dismantling the Florida Gators in the BCS bowl game 33-23.
Louisville baseball went to the College World Series for only the second time in program history. Also, I think a game may or may not have happened on April 8, 2013, in the Georgia Dome and that team has a banner in the KFC Yum Center now documenting that they finished “Final Coaches Poll #1”.
Needless to say, that 2013 title run had a lot of fans dreaming of the old days of cardinal athletics. What if I was to tell you that this year’s women’s team reminds me a lot of the National Championship appearance team? Let’s take a look at the obvious first…the record.
The Jeff Walz-led Louisville women’s team finished the regular season this year 21-10 and 12-6 in conference play. The 2013 men’s team had a record that was very similar, 29-5 in the regular season, and 35-5 after the NCAA Tournament Championship win. One of Louisville’s final two games of the season was against Notre Dame, and the Cardinals came out on top with a 69-57 win over the Irish.
This season, the Louisville women’s team ended Notre Dame’s conference tournament run in a game where the winner of the contest was never in doubt. Louisville had “revenge tour” on their minds and took care of the Fighting Irish in convincing fashion in their third matchup of the season.
I know you have been waiting and wondering what does any of this have to do with Dallas in late March or early April? Why is this guy trying to sell me on this team that hasn’t performed to the standard that Louisville fans have known for over a decade now. Wait no more, as I am going to tell you why the weather in Dallas, Texas matters for Cardinal fans.
If you plan on traveling with this team, just meet this team in Dallas at the NCAA Women’s Final Four at American Airlines Center. This team may have struggled early with the incoming transfers and new pieces, but Coach Jeff Walz mentioned many times during post-game press conferences that this team just didn’t have the intensity on defense or working together truly as a team at times. I believe that has all changed for the better over the last 11 games.
Losing only 3 times with 2 of those losses being to conference foe Notre Dame, and the other one was a loss in the ACC title championship game to Virginia Tech. Louisville lost by a total of 13 points in the last 3 games they lost. This team is coming together at the right time, and we all know what that means for a Jeff Walz coached team. This team is going to give this coaching staff everything they have left in the tank.
No team can overlook any opponent of course because it is “March Madness,” but I have a feeling that we are shaping up well to slide into the Sweet Sixteen before any fan should start wondering how much further can this team go? If you ask me, I think Dallas is the goal every year (Final Four), but we definitely have the right parts and I think Louisville got a break in this region of the bracket. Let’s dive into it.
Louisville named the #5 Seed in the Seattle 4 Region.
Louisville opens up the 2023 NCAA tournament run as a 5-seed going up against the 12-seed Drake Bulldogs. Drake was a 4-seed in their conference tournament, the Missouri Valley Conference. Drake received an automatic bid in the tournament because they won the conference tournament championship after taking out Belmont.
Louisville will face Drake on March 18th, 2023. Drake will give it a really solid effort, but the lack of size and depth will really hurt this team. The 2 tallest players on the team are 6’3″, and the team does not like to get out and run ,which is something that Louisville does very well. As a betting man, I could not imagine the line being anything less than 13 points in favor of the Cards.
Now, I will look at the bracket as I see it when it comes to the highest possible seed Louisville could face in each round.