The NCAA Tournament began seeding the entire field in 1979. Since that time the Louisville Cardinals have been seeded as a #4 NINE times, including 3 of the past 4 seasons.
The Cards were fresh off their 1st National Championship and came into the 1981 NCAA Tournament as a 4-seed in Austin, TX after a 21-8 season and a Metro Conference Championship. The 40-Team NCAA Tournament provided the Top 4 seeds in each region with a 1st Round BYE and in the 2nd Round, the Cards met Arkansas & U.S. Reed……….
Louisville’s Reign of defending National Champions ended on a 49-footer inside the Frank Erwin Center.
The Cards were 22-8 going into the NCAA Tournament in ’89 having won the Metro Tournament over Florida State in Columbia, SC. By this time the NCAA Tournament had expanded to a 64-team fully seeded field, and the Cardinals squeaked by Arkansas Little Rock 76-71 at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, IN. Pervis Ellison fouled out vs the Trojans, and junior Center Felton Spencer carried the Cardinals the rest of the way in the middle. Kenny Payne had 17 points on 8 of 17 shooting, while LaBradford Smith steadied the offense with 15 points and 5 assists in the victory.
In the NCAA’s 2nd Round, the Cardinals once again had to face a team from “The Natural State”, this time the Arkansas Razorbacks. A high-scoring affair saw the Cards advance to the Sweet 16 for the 2nd year in a row over the Razorbacks 93-84. LaBradford Smith & Pervis Ellison had an outstanding games with LaBradford finishing with 26 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds, while Ellision added 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 8 assists. Off the bench Kenny Payne added 12 points, and Cornelius Holden tacked on 8 points and 4 rebounds in just 12 minutes of play.
Louisville was eliminated in the Sweet 16 of the 1989 NCAA Tournament in the Minneapolis Metrodome by the #1 seeded Illinios Fighting Illini. Freshman Everick Sullivan had a great game off the bench playing 24 minutes and scoring 15 points. Kenny Payne led all Cardinals in scoring with 19, while LaBradford Smith & Pervis Ellison both were steady….they didn’t get much help against a VERY strong Illini team. Illinois’ Nick Anderson dropped 24 points to go along with Kendall GIll’s 16, and Marcus Liberty’s 14. Now Broadcaster and former professional Stephen Bardo was very steady with 9 points, 8 rebs, and 6 assists.
Louisville was 26-7 entering the NCAA Tournament after once again bringing home the Metro Conference Tournament Championship over Southern Miss in Biloxi, MS. In the NCAA’s 1st Round the Cardinals easily handled the Idaho Vandals at the Jon Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Cards advanced to the 2nd round with great performances by Jerome Harmon, Everick Sullivan, LaBradford Smith, Keith Williams, and Felton Spencer in a 78-59 victory.
The Cardinals were STUNNED in the NCAA’s 2nd Round by #12 seed Ball State, who squeaked by #5 seed Oregon State in the 1st round, beating the Cardinals 62-60. Louisville only played 7 players total in the game and a poor shooting night from Keith Williams (2 of 9 from field), Everick Sullivan (1 for 8), LaBradford Smith (4 of 12), Tony Kimbro (2 of 6), and Cornelius Holden (1 of 4) lead to the Cards shooting just 37.9% from the field. Louisville was also out-rebounded by Ball State 36-27 who shot 45.8%.
Ball State was led in the by Chandler Thompson, Billy Butts, & Curtis Kidd. Ball State would eventually lose to the eventual National Champion, UNLV, in the Sweet Sixteen 69-67. Ball St’s 2 point loss was the best shot UNLV took during the 1990 NCAA Tournament winning the other 5 games in the NCAA Tournament by an average of 23.4 points.
Once again UofL entered the NCAA Tournament as a #4 seed after winning the Metro Conference Tournament in Freedom Hall over Virginia Commonwealth. Louisville earned their #4 seed going 20-8, and opened their NCAA Tournament inside the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, IN against #13 seeded Delaware.
The Fighting Blue Hens put up a good fight before going down 76-70. Dwayne Morton and Clifford Rozier added 20 points each, and UD’s Anthony Wright had a great game from the field 17 points (8-13 FGs) and a nightmare game from the foul line (0-5). James Brewer was knocked unconscious during the game and wheeled off the court on a stretcher
The 2nd Round Match-up featured a game against Eddie Sutton’s Oklahoma State Cowboys who was just 3 years removed from leaving the Kentucky Wildcats a losing season and NCAA Investigation that would put the program on probation & with a post-season and television ban.
As for the game itself, Clifford Rozier v. Bryant “Big Country” Reeves was a tremendous match-up, and James “Boo” Brewer recovered from his fall two days earlier for a tremendous game tallying 26 points (7-10 FG) and 10 for 10 at the foul line. Greg Minor also added 15 points in a 78-63 win over the Cowboys.
The Cards were eliminated in the Sweet 16 in the St. Louis Arena a week later by the #1 seed (and #1 ranked team) Indiana Hoosiers 82-69. Dwayne Morton fouled out after 4 of 14 shooting, and James Brewer also struggled from the field as well (4 of 16 FGs). Louisville didn’t get much from its bench either, but Bob Knight’s Hoosiers were humming against the Cards with Calbert Cheaney scoring 32 points and Greg Graham adding 22.
The Cards entered the 2003 NCAA Tournament 24-6 after winning the Conference USA Tournament Championship over UAB at Freedom Hall. The Cards were seeded #4 in the East Region and played the opening round games in Birmingham at the BJCC.
To kick things off the Cards trounced Austin Peay behind a 20 point, 11 rebound effort from Luke Whitehead and Reece Gaines added 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals to win 86-64 in the NCAA’s 1st Round.
Louisville surprisingly fell to the Thad Matta led Butler Bulldogs in the 2nd round. Butler knocked off #5 seed Mississippi State in a thriller in the 1st Round, and turned around and took down the Cards 79-71 two days later. Darnell Archey WENT OFF for 26 points, Joel Cornette added 14 points & 10 rebounds, and Mike Monserez added 14 points and 9 assists. Louisville lost despite shooting 51.4% from the field, an even rebound advantage and took an additional two shots. The difference was the foul line where Butler finished the game with just 11 total fouls (and played just 7 players) and the Cards committed 21 fouls and sent the Bulldogs to the foul line 19 times compared to Louisville’s 4 Free Throw Attempts.
It was a tough loss to take considering Reece Gaines’ 26 points and 6 of 10 three-point shooting to go along with 6 assist and 3 steals. Gaines did commit 7 turnovers, and got some help from Francisco Garcia who added 16 points before fouling out. Marvin Stone and Taquan Dean were a combined 1 of 9 from the field and the Cardinals ended their season in Birmingham against Butler.
Louisville entered the 2005 NCAA Tournament as a #4 seed following a 29-4 season and a thrilling C-USA Tournament victory over Darius Washington and the Memphis Tigers in the FedEx Forum. The Cards got started at the Gaylord Entertainment Center in Nashville vs. Louisiana Lafayette and the game was much closer than expected 68-62 as a result of the Cards hitting just 38.6% from the floor. Francisco Garcia led the way with 27 points.
In the 2nd round, the Cards faced the 2004 NCAA Runner-Up Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets coached by Paul Hewitt. This game had quite a bit of hype surrounding the 4/5 match-up, but it was complete and total domination by Louisville. The Jarrett Jack, Luke Schenscher, Anthony Morrow, and Will Bynum led squad ran into a blitzkrieg and were eliminated 76-54. Francisco Garcia tallied 21 points, Ellis Myles had 9 points and 8 rebounds, Juan Palacios went for 12 points/11 rebounds, Larry O’Bannon dropped 16, and Taquan Dean hauled in 14.
Most thought that Rick Pitino’s run of undefeated in the Sweet 16 was about to come to an end the following weekend in Albuquerque, New Mexico at The Pit. The Cards were paired with #1 seed Washington who was playing outstanding basketball. But once again UofL came out RED HOT and ran the Nate Robinson & Brandon Roy led Huskies out of the gym 93-79. Robinson was held to 1 of 7 shooting, and the Cards got a similar effort from its starters as it did in the Georgia Tech game, but added a 6 point 5 rebound contribution from Otis George.
The Regional Final/Elite 8 Match-Up between Louisville and West Virginia was an EPIC game that folks around town, and in Morgantown still reference today. The term “Pittsnoggled’ became a thing as the John Beilein coached & 7 seeded Mountaineers wrecked havoc on the bottom half of the West Region knocking off #10 seed Creighton, #2 seeded Wake Forest (in 2OT), and then #6 seeded & Bobby Knight coached Texas Tech to get to the Regional Final.
Once there WVU went out to a 38-18 lead with 2:49 remaining before halftime. The Cards were able to cut the margin to 40-27 at halftime, but the mood was not good at the half. West Virginia was hitting at 65% from the field and 71.4% from behind the arc at halftime. Louisville had no answer in the 2nd half either as WVU actually shot 60% from the field in the 2nd half, and 80% from 3-points range in the 2nd half. The Cards were able to start chipping away, however, and dominated the backboard out-rebounding WVU 22-9 in the second half to go along with a +4 turnover margin.
Louisville was able to force Overtime and win in the extra session. The comeback was a total team effort, Larry O’Bannon was a key player throughout and especially late in the game with the tying lay-up and a block to save the game in the final seconds. O’Bannon finished with 24 points & 4 assists, Taquan Dean added 23 points, and Francisco Garcia tallied 13 points and 8 assists before fouling out. Kevin Pittsnoggle was on fire and I could describe the game to you, but I’m still not sure how the Cards won this game and advanced to the Final Four…….it’s easier just to show you:
Once in the Final Four at the Edwards Jones Dome in St. Louis, the Cards ran into the Illinois Fighting Illini and fell 72-57 despite committing just 5 turnovers. The problem for Louisville was rebounding, the Cards were out-rebounded 38-26 and only forced 7 turnovers in the ballgame. Deron Williams, Luther Head, Dee Brown, and James Augustine ended the Cardinals’ season. It was the 1st Final Four for UofL since 1986. The Bruce Weber coached Illinois fell two nights later to the 2005 National Champion, North Carolina.
The 2011 NCAA Tournament was short for the Cards. Louisville earned the #4 seed after falling in the Big East Tournament Finals to eventual National Champion UCONN 69-66. The Cards entered the NCAA Tournament with a 25-9 Record and would face Morehead State at the Pepsi Center in Denver, CO.
Coach Pitino was extremely concerned with Kenneth Faried coming into the game, and rightfully so. Faried finished with 17 rebounds and 12 points and leading the Eagles to a 41-29 rebounding advantage. Leading scorer for Louisville Preston Knowles broke his foot during the game and the Cardinals offense would stall down the stretch. In the end the Cardinals were up by 2 when Morehead State’s Demonte Harper hit a three from the top of the key with 3.6 seconds remaining.
A last second attempt for a shot by Mike Marra was blocked by Faried (many thought it was a foul) and the Cards were eliminated in their opening game of the NCAA Tournament 62-61. Chris Smith led all Cardinals with 17 points.
UofL was seed #4 following a Big East Tournament Tournament Championship over Cincinnati. Louisville was 26-9 entering the NCAAs and were shipped to Portland, OR to play in the Rose Garden and opened with the Davidson Wildcats. The opener was CLOSE but the Cards eventually pulled away 69-62 and got a stern test from Davidson behind a 24 point, 10 rebound effort by Jake Cohen. Chane Behanan and Peyton Siva ruled the roost as Behanan tallied 14 points & 11 rebounds, and Siva added 17 points & 6 assists before fouling out.
The 2nd round game was also an extremely difficult test against the New Mexico Lobos. Drew Gordon was AWESOME for NM with a 21 point, 14 rebound game. But it wasn’t enough as Russ Smith put up 17 points and had 3 steals to go along with a 6 point/10 rebound effort from Gorgui Dieng. New Mexico hit a 3-pointer with 0:04 remaining to pull the game within 3, and a Elisha Justice missed free throw made a tie possible, but the Lobos were not able to get a shot off and the Cards advanced to the Sweet 16.
UofL then traveled to Phoenix, AZ to play in the US Airways Arena against #1 seeded Michigan State. The Spartans appeared to be a very tough team for the Cards with All-American Draymond Green and March genius Tom Izzo. But the Cardinals went through MSU surprisingly well on their way to a 57-44 victory. The Spartans really had no answer for the Cardinals, but did draw within 4 points with about 10 minutes remaining. Chane Behanan had 15 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals; Peyton Siva had 4 points & 9 assists, and Gorgui Dieng had 5 points, 9 rebounds, 7 blocks and 3 steals and Advanced to the Regional Finals to face Florida.
#7 seeded Florida had caught its stride by the Regional Final. The Billy Donovan coached squad was running rough shod over their opponents in the first 3 games of the NCAA Tournament winning by an average of 23.33 points per game. The Gators started similarly with a 7-0 lead. By halftime the Gators led 41-33 with Florida shooting 66.7% in the first half.
The Cards were dealing with foul trouble early, but the game really turned when Karl Hess gave Peyton Siva a foul and then issued a Technical Foul on Rick Pitino for yelling at Siva at 10:56 remaining, which gave the Gators 4 free throws and extended their lead from 7 to 11. By 3:07, the Cards had tied it and had all of the momentum and by this time were without Peyton Siva who had fouled out. Chane Behanan hit a jumper with 1:06 remaining to take the lead and would hold on to a 72-68 lead and the Cardinals would advance to the Final Four in New Orleans……..watch the CrumsRevenge highlights below.
The journey would end in the National Semifinals to arch-rival Kentucky, who would go on to win the NCAA Championship. The Cards fell 69-61 despite creating 20 additional shots than the Wildcats while out-rebounding UK 40-33 and having a +2 turnover margin. The Cards shot just 34.8% to Kentucky’s 57.1%.