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Louisville Still Believes in NCAA Berth

Louisville's NCAA hopes took a major hit on Tuesday following their 8-5 loss to Miami on the opening day of the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinals come in to Friday's game with an RPI of 60 and with most projections leaving them out of a Regional next week. A big win against Clemson would boost their resume and could put them back in the conversation for an NCAA bid. But head coach Dan McDonnell and his team believe their resume within the ACC speaks for itself.


I feel good about our resume, and I like where we're at, tied for sixth in the ACC," McDonnell said on Tuesday. "My gosh. I mean, look who the eighth seed is and how they're viewed across college baseball. And so I'm super optimistic about our league and how we put ourselves in this position."


The ACC has been quite strong this year and many would argue is a conference deserving of nine bids and yet both Louisville and Georgia Tech will be sweating it out this week. Louisville has been on the bubble basically the whole season, but they were looking pretty good heading into their penultimate ACC series of the year against UNC before they were swept by the Tar Heels.


"That was probably the most frustrated I was all year," McDonnel said of that UNC series. "That was the one time we had a chance to bounce back and we just didn't do enough in that game two. I was just so frustrated because this group has bounced back."


Louisville's season has certainly had their ups and downs and they have always seemingly bounced back. Following that sweep to UNC, they took all three from Notre Dame in the final ACC series to leapfrog Wake Forest, the aforementioned 8th seed, in the ACC standings. And today, against Clemson, Louisville will once again get a chance to show their ability to get back up after being knocked down.


"What an opportunity we have Friday," said McDonnell. "Bounce back and get ready to play good baseball."


Despite how he feels about his team's tournament resume, McDonnell knows that today's game is likely a must win if they'd like to continue playing next week.


"These guys are going to want to keep playing. And as much as I don't want them to think ahead and read stuff, I don't want them to feel like they have to win. Control what they can control."


At the end of the day, this Louisville team is a tournament caliber team and deserving of an NCAA tournament berth. Win or lose against Clemson, they've had a successful season following their tumultuous 2023. But with several bid stealers out there and other deserving teams chasing a spot, there's a possibility the Cardinals get left out. McDonnell's message to his team following Tuesday's loss was clear: Play a good game on Friday and be confident.


"My message to them in the outfield was how much I believe in them because of the teams we've beaten this year," said the 5-time College World Series veteran coach.


It's hard not to believe in this Cardinal team after hearing their coach and reflecting on a very competitive ACC 2024 season. A win over Clemson would put Louisville at 17-15 in the ACC and add a signature win to their massive sweep of NC State back in early April. And while they can't advance to the ACC Semi-Finals on Saturday, they are still alive, albeit barely, for more postseason baseball. McDonnell and his team believe in themselves and their resume, but are happy to conclude ACC play for the year.


"I'll be looking forward to getting in an NCAA [Regional] and not playing an ACC team," McDonnell said.


Louisville finishes its ACC Tournament today against second seeded Clemson at 3pm in Charlotte. While the pool has already been decided with Miami advancing, both Louisville and the Tigers are playing for NCAA tournament positioning.





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