LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Despite most projections having UofL in the field of 68 for the NCAA Tournament, the selection committee had the Cards as team #69.
“I would like to think that how we felt last night, sitting in front of that video screen, will do wonders for our motivation and our understanding that every little thing that we do, as a player, as coaches, matters, everything,” UofL head coach Chris Mack said on Monday.
As the brackets were unveiled on Sunday night, Mack said he started to get uneasy when he saw certain teams in the field.
“I think the by the time the end of the bracket was showing, I knew we weren’t gonna be a part of it,” he said. “There were too many teams that were projected a little bit below us in some brackets that were already being included and there just wasn’t much space left, so by the time the bracket had a few teams left, I didn’t hold out much hope.”
He did not place blame on the selection committee.
“It’s a tough job that the committee has,” he said. “You’re not talking about major discrepancies between the last few teams that get in the tournament. You know it’s paper thin.”
UofL could potentially draw into the field, if a team from a conference with multiple bids drops out due to COVID by 6 p.m. on Tuesday, but Mack said he is not expecting that call.
“I mean we’ll be ready,” he said, “I think the prerequisite is that you have all those negative tests in a row, so we’ll be ready. I don’t see that happening. By tomorrow night there has to be a team that doesn’t have five players able to play, and so I just, I don’t see that happening.”
The Cards would have been a top seed in the NIT, but elected not to play in that tournament.
“That decision was probably made a week or two ago, between myself and Vince (Tyra),” Mack said. “We were really on the same page. The health of our team this year just wasn’t very good, even down the stretch. I mean we had days when we were practicing with seven and eight players and when you go on two COVID pauses, you’re losing your captain, you have guys that are injured, it wasn’t the right decision for this team to play in the NIT.”
Mack also confirmed that sophomore center Aiden Igiehon has entered the NCAA transfer portal.
“I don’t know if there have ever been two, three weeks in a row, where Aidan was able to practice,” Mack said. “It was just one tough thing after another. Some minor, some a little bit more major. So it’s just sort of what he’s had to deal with for his two years and I think him getting a fresh start at a new place hopefully turns the tide in terms of injury and being able to be a consistent player.”
Mack said decisions on the futures of seniors Carlik Jones and Malik Williams as well a potential jump to the NBA for David Johnson have not been discussed yet. More roster changes are expected in the coming weeks.
The Cards finish the 2020-21 season 13-7.