Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss Louisville’s exclusion from the original field of 68 for the 2021 NCAA Tournament, and the situation for the team as it sits as the first designated replacement team.
DAN WETZEL: First we've got to talk about who got screwed, because this is what this podcast is. And I don't know whether they got screwed or not, but the fact that Louisville is on the waitlist just cracks me up. The NCAA selection committee is now sending kids to the waitlist like every other school. Nobody who's ever attended Louisville hasn't been on a waitlist somewhere better.
PETE THAMEL: Do you think they can get Aunt Becky to get him in the tournament?
DAN WETZEL: Shouldn't-- shouldn't be a new phenomenon.
PETE THAMEL: Could Papa John pay off the committee Aunt Becky style? Let's go.
DAN WETZEL: I got waitlisted at Vanderbilt, but I'm going to Louisville. That's pretty much-- right?
Pat, what has happened? I mean, this is a very exciting couple of minutes. First, the Kentucky AD, Mitch Barnhart, is the chair. Now, I'm sure he did a fine job. I'm not accusing him of any vengeful bracket massaging, but I'm sure a bunch of Louisville fans are.
But their arch rival-- I mean, I feel bad for a Louisville fan tonight. You don't get in. Your arch rival's AD says you're the last team out. You got on the wait list, and you have to sit around and hope Virginia gets COVID.
And Rick freaking Pitino is in at Iona, and Louisville's sitting around going, if we don't get in this year, we may never get back in, because it could be like three years! We're going on a Grand Canyon-like drought here. Mitch Barnhart's up there going, well, they only had one Tier 1 win. What a shame. You know who wasn't a Tier 1 win, Mitch? Your team!
PAT FORDE: That's right. If Mitch's team wasn't that bad, Louisville probably gets in. Or if Duke wasn't bad, who Louisville beat twice, Louisville gets in.
DAN WETZEL: What's going on?
PAT FORDE: I wrote a column tonight, that this was just the gut punch that nobody really saw coming until all of a sudden it was right there.
And the thing is, Louisville-- as you guys know, but maybe the listeners don't-- every year leads the TV ratings for the NCAA tournament. No place loves the NCAA tournament like Louisville, Kentucky. Every year. It's like Birmingham, Alabama with college football. Every year, top of the list.
And so you have no tournament last year. You're waiting. You're going to have it this year. And really, at no point in time did anybody think Louisville was not in the tournament. Now, they played their way down to the point of doubt, but still, I think everybody's like, oh, no, they're in. They're in.
And then you kind of had to be doing the math in your head the whole time. Oh, Georgetown just won the Big East Tournament Saturday night. Hmm, that knocked somebody out. Oh, it's probably not Louisville, though. There's other people that will be out before them-- Wichita, Utah State, something.
Oh, wait, Oregon State wins after midnight! Now two teams are out. And that turned out to be the one that got Louisville, because they were the last team out, and Oregon State obviously took the last bid on Saturday night.
They had two long COVID pauses. They had a lot of key games canceled, chances to beat teams that would have gotten you in. And every time they came back-- two long pauses. They came back, they lost by 37 to Wisconsin and 45 to North Carolina. They were the worst post-COVID team in America. So you add that on to everything else, and goodbye.
PETE THAMEL: That has to be the most 2021 label of all time. They're the worst post-COVID team in America! They just stunk.
Well, having had the pleasure of working with Pat for about two-plus years at Yahoo, I learned a lot of things. But one thing I definitely learned is that the entire college sports world actually revolves around the state of Kentucky. So on this most vibrant Selection Sunday, when all these crazy things happened, when Pat got on the podcast tonight, he was like, yeah, I wrote a column about Louisville, it just made all the sense in the world, of course! Because somehow Louisville became the story when they were a completely sort of bland team this year.
PAT FORDE: Yeah.
PETE THAMEL: I don't want to say bland team.
PAT FORDE: Yeah.
PETE THAMEL: They were just a completely anonymous team this season. They weren't great. They weren't bad. They won at Cameron. You paid attention to them. They had a nice transfer from Radford. But there was really nothing that stood out about Louisville this season.