Louisville players celebrate as the Cardinals close out a victory over… (Elsa / Getty Images )
The red-colored and red-hot Louisville Cardinals earned the No. 1 overall seeding for this year’s NCAA tournament.
Rick Pitino’s Big East Conference tournament championship team got the top spot in the Midwest Region and will open play Thursday in nearby Lexington, Ky.
Louisville faces the winner of the first-round “play-in” game between North Carolina A&T and Liberty.
The other No. 1 seedings were Kansas (South), Indiana (East) and Gonzaga (West).
Gonzaga opens play Thursday in Salt Lake City against Southern.
UCLA, the regular-season champion of the Pac-12 Conference, is off to Austin, Texas, after drawing a No. 6 seeding in the South against No. 11 Minnesota.
Oregon, which defeated UCLA for the Pac-12 tournament title, received only a No. 12 seeding in the Midwest and got a tough draw in San Jose against No. 5 Oklahoma State.
Kentucky, the defending national champion, did not make the field of 68. Other teams on the “bubble” that were left out included Southern Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Virginia and Iowa.
The last four at-large schools to make the tournament were La Salle, Boise State, St Mary’s and Middle Tennessee State.
Boise and La Salle will play in Dayton with the winner taking on No. 4 Kansas State on Friday in the West Region.
Middle Tennessee and St. Mary’s will play in Dayton with the winner taking on No. 6 Memphis on Thursday in the Midwest.
The Big East led all conferences with eight tournament bids. The Big Ten had seven, while the Atlantic 10, Big 12, Mountain West and Pac-12 all placed five teams in the field.
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