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Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith: ‘We don’t need Barack Obama’s bracket’

(Jessie Louie/Just Women's Sports)

Despite being a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, Louisville is taking an underdog mindset into the Sweet 16.

Sophomore guard Hailey Van Lith noted that several high-profile bracket predictions don’t have her team in the Final Four. Included among those brackets are those of former President Barack Obama, current president Joe Biden, the WNBA’s Candace Parker and Jimmy Fallon.

Notably, Obama and Parker both had Baylor beating Louisville — the same Baylor that is now out of the tournament after a loss to South Dakota. Fallon, meanwhile, had Louisville losing to Gonzaga in the second round. The Cardinal beat Gonzaga 68-59 in that game.

“We’re kind of like the Bad News Bears,” Hailey Van Lith told reporters on Friday. “We upset everyone’s bracket. We piss people off that we’re good. Everyone gets mad when we beat teams. You learn to love that about it. It’s unfortunate it has to be that way.

“We’ve got our fans back home, and that’s all we care about. We don’t need the people picking the brackets. We don’t need Barack Obama’s bracket, we don’t need Jimmy Fallon, we don’t need none of that. We’re still here, and some of those teams are home, and that’s what it is. We’re going to keep playing Louisville basketball and do us. If you match up with us, you better be ready to play. That’s all I’m going to say, because we’re coming to win.”

Louisville coach Jeff Walz is no stranger to the Final Four, having taken teams in 2009, 2013 and 2018. In 2013, the Cardinals upset No. 1 seed Baylor in the Sweet 16. Last year, they nearly made the Final Four before a second-half rally by eventual champion Stanford knocked them out of the tournament in the Elite Eight.

“Our kids follow what’s going on,” Walz said. “When the bracket came out, everybody picked Baylor to advance. Which is good, that’s kind of the way our kids like it. I still think people wonder how we keep winning.

“How do we keep doing it? How do we keep getting ourselves to a point where we can get a 1-seed? Where we’re competing again in the Sweet 16? I’m fortunate to have a great staff. Our players respond to the pressure, the expectations. It’s fun.”