Yet after Thursday’s defeat at Barclays Center, Louisville forward Deng Adel sat in a folding chair in an all-but-silent locker room and said everything — the same everything that Padgett had mentioned — had made some fans and critics forget about the good things that Louisville had done this season. And Adel said he was tired of hearing about everything else.

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Louisville Coach David Padgett made an impassioned case for his team after its loss. “These 14 players — with everything that they’ve been through this year — you can’t tell me they don’t deserve an opportunity to play in the N.C.A.A. tournament,” he said.

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“We just get sick of it, just of hearing and seeing it in the media,” he said. “Nobody has nothing to do with it here.”

Whether Louisville secures a tournament bid will depend on how the selection committee weighs the Cardinals’ wins and losses. The team has proved it can hang around with top-notch teams like top-ranked Virginia, and the Cardinals twice beat Florida State, another 20-win team with tournament aspirations.

But Louisville earned only one win against a power conference team — a 71-62 victory over Indiana — in nonleague play, and it lost to Kentucky (21-10), Seton Hall (21-10) and Purdue (28-6). Still, Padgett was certain his team had done enough.

“You can’t possibly sit here and tell me we aren’t one of the best 68 teams in the country,” he said.

Thursday’s game wasn’t close, though. Every time the Cardinals seemed to gain a bit of momentum, Virginia would snuff it out. When Anas Mahmoud’s dunk cut Virginia’s lead to 7 points, the Cavaliers came back with a basket that left Padgett cursing under his breath. When Louisville made a deep jumper, the Cavaliers answered with one of their own.

Regardless of what happens on Sunday, when the N.C.A.A. tournament selections are announced, Louisville’s season will continue. During a radio interview on Thursday, Louisville’s interim athletic director, Vince Tyra, assured fans the Cardinals would play in the National Invitation Tournament if they missed out on their primary goal. Padgett seemed to concur.

“Whatever happens Sunday, they deserve a ton of credit for that publicly because so many times this year, they could’ve just folded up and said, ‘This is not why we came here,’ ” Padgett said. “They could’ve felt sorry for themselves, and not once the whole time through the last four or five months did they do that.”

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