Second, I was stunned by the number of people who had Louisville, Syracuse and Michigan in the Final Four with the Cards topping the Wolverines in the championship game. When I saw that I had the scenario in my second set of bracket picks - admittedly not my "official" bracket - I figured I had the thing wrapped up, but a tip of the cap to the handful of you who proved that thought to be foolish.
Junior DH Jeff Gardner played offensive hero, going 4-for-4 with four RBI, a home run, two doubles, two runs scored and one vicious bat flip. Lexington native Shane Crain added three hits, two RBI and two runs scored.
Next up for the Cards is a weekend set at St. John's. The series begins Friday at 6 p.m., ET in a game that can be viewed online through ESPN3 at WatchESPN.com. Saturday's game is set for a 2:30 p.m., ET first pitch on CBS Sports Network, while Sunday's finale will start at noon and will also be available for viewing through ESPN3.
Cardinal fans went batty for the limited-edition U of L National Champions
Louisville Slugger® bats. All 2,013 commemorative bats have been sold; gone in less than four days! But with demand so high, Louisville Slugger has worked with U of L to create a second version of a Cardinal National Champions bat.
"Cards fans ordered this commemorative bat faster than any limited-edition bat we've ever made," said Packy Page, Louisville Slugger's Director of Specialty & Premium Bat Sales. "It's been remarkable to see the level of excitement."
With more fans wanting a commemorative Louisville Slugger bat, the storied company has created a second Officially Licensed version that protects the integrity of the limited-edition bat while allowing more fans to take part. Version two keeps the National Champions logo, the championship banner and scores of all of U of L's NCAA tourney games. But the new bat does not have any limited-edition numbering like version one nor does it have the Cardinal head and "Louisville" word logos. By removing those logos, the version two bat has room for personalization, so fans can put a name or message on their bat. Names of the U of L players and coaches are not permitted.
"We want to protect the value of the limited-edition bats for those who got one," Page said. "At the same time, we don't want to disappoint fans who would like to commemorate this special team with a special bat, especially since some media across the country called them ‘Louisville Sluggers' for the way they fought back to win."
For comparison's sake, Louisville Slugger only sold about 300 of the national championship bats for Kentucky last season.
If you're interested in one of the non-limited edition bats, check out www.sluggergifts.com.
I have about 300 fantastic Card Chronicle Bird Mask pictures that I need to find something to do with. Pretty easy to get backlogged with this stuff after a week like last one, but we'll find a way to work through it.
Peyton Siva will stop by two Planet Fitness locations for a meet and greet with fans today and this weekend. Siva will visit the Elizabethtown location (1111 North Dixie Highway) today from 5 to 7 p.m. and will stop by the Outer Loop location (7450 Jefferson Boulevard) on April 20 from 1 to 3 p.m. Siva will be at the gyms to meet fans, sign autographs and take pictures.
Love that guy.
Speaking of guys I love (what?) Gorgui Dieng is now officially on Twitter. Give hm a follow - @GDieng10 - if you're a social media practitioner.
This breakdown of March Madness money earned by conference notes that Louisville and Syracuse are leaving a $2.44 million dollar parting gift to the Big East.
Click here for more info.
It's been a while since we've had a college tip from Uncle Mike (that felt weird coming out, not doing it again), so here we go: April is the best month to be in college. Ok, that's not really a tip, it's just a statement of opinion, but take it or leave it.
Of my favorite memories from college, I'd say about 75 percent took place in April. The weather is perfect, and people are more appreciative of it than they were at the start of the fall semester since it's coming after the winter months. Everyone's anxious to grill and drink outside, which means you're far more likely to find friends willing to do things (cool things) at 1 p.m. than you are at any other point during the school year. Also, Louisville basketball and football are over, which while awful, also represents a major vacation for your psyche and emotions.
One quick word of caution about April, though: Don't jump in the baby pool. I'm so f---ing serious, you guys. You made it through August and September without screwing this up, but April is a different beast entirely. Just don't do it. Don't jump in the baby pool.
Did you know Louisville has a Baja racing team? Because Louisville has a Baja racing team. They're off for their first race of the season on Wednesday, but here's a video highlighting some of their past...highlights.
I would flip that thing in five seconds. You know who wouldn't? Craig Strand.
In terms of colleges whose players offer the best NFL Draft value, Louisville ranks No. 8.
If you enjoy Jimmy John's and live near Louisville, treat yourself to a $1 sub today between 11-3.
A really interesting statistical take on what Louisville fans should expect from JuCo point guard Chris Jones next season.
Probably the best thing Louisville's Chris Jones has going for him is that Rick Pitino believes in him. If Pitino thinks he can compete and possibly start immediately, expectations should be pretty high. At this point, I see Jones as having a slightly higher expected value than Louisville's other incoming PG, Terry Rozier. Rozier was the #75 RSCI recruit out of high school before spending a year at prep school. But I would expect them both to play. My model has Jones playing 55% of the minutes and Rozier playing 45% of the minutes.
Without Russ Smith, my predictions model currently has Louisville 15th nationally. With Russ Smith, my model would now have Louisville 3rd, behind only Kentucky (with the greatest recruiting class of all time) and Michigan St. (assuming Adreian Payne and Gary Harris return.) 15th may seem unreasonably low, but remember that Russ Smith was Ken Pomeroy's player of the year as the most important tempo free player, so obviously his loss is going to hurt in any model that relies on tempo free stats. Personally, I think 15th may be a little low. But it all comes down to what you are trying to measure. My model has Iowa slightly ahead of Louisville right now. Iowa almost certainly has less of a chance of being an elite team or national title contender than Louisville. But Iowa had the 23rd best margin-of-victory numbers last year, returns basically its entire rotation, and has little chance of a disastrous season. I think most people tend to make their predictions at least partly based on upside, and I won't argue with Louisville in the 8-12 range in most people's rankings.
Overall, the top JUCO recruits can be dominant players. But much like freshmen recruits outside the Top 20, there are no guarantees.
A good piece from Grantland on the scene in Louisville a little over a week ago.