Mr. Gottlieb, I was watching many shows on the ESPN this past weekend, and some comments made by you have caused great consternation for those of us here in Cardinal Country. For the sake of expediency, I will simply provide the gist of your comments for those unaware: The Louisville Cardinals are not a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament and quite frankly most likely need to win the Big East tournament to get consideration.
While I understand you were asked the question and were simply giving your opinion, I must take issue with it, and please allow me a rebuttal on behalf of Cardinal Country.
First, Louisville won their conference regular season outright. They did not win a share of the title or win by backing into it. The Cardinals went on the road, in a hostile environment, against an NCAA Tournament team, on their senior night, the ESPN Game of the Week, and won the basketball game.
Second, Louisville beat the alleged best team in the conference, Pitt, when they played each other. You made the point Louisville did not have to play the alleged No. 1 seeds Pitt or UConn twice, and you are correct, they did not.
However, Louisville doesn't make their Big East schedule, nor does Pitt or UConn. If you remember correctly, Louisville played for the 2007-2008 Big East championship on the final day of the regular season after having played one of the toughest schedules in the Big East that season. Yet we did not hear anyone bring that up as an argument against Georgetown's title or as an argument in favor of Louisville's seeding.
Third, you appear to have contradicted yourself while making another argument. During your explanation of why Florida is not in the NCAA Tournament, you claimed it was because their best win was against Washington back in November and said so in a dismissive fashion that made it appear what happened back then does not hold any bearing now.
I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment. However, if that is the case, we must discount what happened in November. Therefore we must not take into account Louisville's loss to Western Kentucky on a neutral floor, a loss that is constantly brought up as a case against Louisville's No. 1 seed hopes.
I generally agree North Carolina and Pittsburgh are virtual locks for No. 1 seeds in the Big Dance. That leaves only two spots left for approximately four teams to fight over. Those teams I believe to be Louisville, Oklahoma, UConn, and I guess Memphis, only because a few talking heads at your network say so. As far as those teams go, here is why I believe Louisville has a better or equal case when compared with the other squads.
Oklahoma, unlike Louisville, did not win their regular season conference championship. I understand Blake Griffin was injured and did not play for two of those losses. Cutting them a bit of slack for that is just fine. However, they recently lost to Missouri with him in the lineup and with him lost to Arkansas (on Dec. 30). The loss to Arkansas is as bad a loss as any Louisville sustained.
If Oklahoma wins the Big XII conference tournament, I'll have no problem with Oklahoma being a No. 1 seed. However, saying Oklahoma is in good shape for a No. 1 seed cannot be said at this moment, unless you are factoring in them winning the Big XII conference tournament. If they do not, they have no case for being a No. 1 seed, as you simply cannot give a No. 1 seed to a team who failed to win their conference regular season and conference tournament.
The case against UConn is similar, yet even stronger in my opinion. Connecticut, like the Sooners, did not win their regular season conference championship. UConn did beat Louisville at Louisville, and that no doubt must be a factor. However, the UConn team that beat Louisville had a fully healthy Jerome Dyson.
The current UConn team soundly beaten by Pitt twice, wins that have vaulted Pitt into near lock status for the overall No. 1 seed, did not feature Jerome Dyson at all. Dyson was injured and done for the season prior to both meetings between the Huskies and Panthers.
Just like Oklahoma, if UConn does not win the Big East conference tournament, how can they be a No. 1 seed come dancin' time if they failed to win their conference regular season and conference tournament?
Memphis should not have a case for a No. 1 seed. Again, I have not heard you personally, Mr. Gottlieb, make a case for Memphis as a No. 1, but since your network has some people who have, I will briefly address it.
First, their common opponents. The Tigers lost to Georgetown on a neutral floor (the Cardinals beat the Hoyas at Georgetown), lost to Syracuse at home (the Cardinals beat the Orange in the Carrier Dome), and beat the 'Nati at home (the Cardinals beat the 'Nati in the 'Nati).
Also, Conference USA is a joke. They are the 10th-best conference according to the ConferenceRPI, and of the 12 teams in that conference, seven of them have a losing record. Memphis as a No. 1 seed over Louisville? Give me a break.
So Mr. Gottlieb, I ask you again, why does Louisville not have a legit case for a No. 1 seed over or equal to those teams listed above?