Louisville shocked the NCAA Basketball world today by announcing a self-imposed ban that will keep them out of the 2016 NCAA tournament. How will your NCAA Basketball picks be affected?
The Louisville Cardinals held a press conference regarding the decision today and school president James Ramsey said, "It's reasonable to conclude that violations have occurred in men’s basketball program in the past."
Ramsey also confirmed his support to head coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich, per Eric Crawford of WDRB in Louisville.
Pitino said, "This penalty is quite substantial. It comes with complete shock to me."
Forde also explained that the Cardinals will also not play in the ACC tournament, ending their streak of nine straight NCAA Tournaments (the sixth-longest active streak in the nation).
The Cardinals are still under NCAA investigation after "a woman's claims that she and other escorts were paid thousands of dollars and given game tickets in exchange for dancing for and having sex with U of L basketball players and recruits from 2010-14."
Pitino joins other legendary coaches that have missed or will miss the NCAA Tournament because of punishments. Jim Boeheim and Syracuse missed last year's ACC and NCAA tournaments and Larry Brown and SMU will also miss the 2016 postseason.
The timing of this ban devastates the Louisville Cardinals and their fans, considering that the team is currently 18-4 and ranked No. 19 in the country, coming off an upset of No. 2 North Carolina last Monday. The Cardinals are now in second place in the ACC at 7-2, a game behind the 8-1 Tar Heels and online sportsbooks like Bovada have already removed Louisville form their NCAA Basketball odds boards.
Louisville was expected to challenge for the ACC title and get a favorable seed in the NCAA Tournament, since only two of their final nine regular season games are against teams that are currently ranked.
This punishment also affects seniors Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, two graduate transfers from Drexel and Cleveland State respectively, who came to Louisville hoping to finally play in an NCAA Tournament in the last year of their careers.
Damion Lee (17.0 points per game) and Trey Lewis (12.1 points per game) are the team's leading scorers and they have carried their offense. Lee and Lewis will miss March Madness but we can expect them to play very hard so they can have a strong finish that will help them improve their NBA stocks. So don't overlook Louisville for your NCAA Basketball picks.