Wednesday Morning Cardinal News And Notes

How many times has Luke already had to pose for this type of picture? The answer: Not nearly as many as he's going to over the course of the next four months.

I_medium First off, if you won the second Card Chronicle bracket group - "W" - please email me for prize info. Your email is private on Yahoo and thus I don't know how to get ahold of you.

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.

I_mediumMajor congrats to the Louisville baseball team on its 12-5 thrashing of Kentucky at Cliff Hagan Stadium last night.

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.

I_mediumA very cool compilation of headlines from sports websites in the moments immediately following Louisville's national championship.

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I_mediumWell done on the Louisville Slugger bats, folks. I received this press release on Tuesday.

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_medium The Louisville softball team has joined the baseball bros as the No. 8 squad in the country in their respective sport. The ladies are now 37-6 heading into a double-header against Pitt later today.

I_mediumI was admittedly skeptical about a Final Four-centric rap, but this is really good.


I_medium 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.

I_medium 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.

I_medium No word on whether or not he'll be signing babies.

Sivababy_medium

Love that guy.

I_medium 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.

I_mediumFor those who have been asking, Russ Smith has until April 28 to make a decision about the NBA Draft. Yesterday's NCAA deadline essentially meant nothing, because the NCAA is dumb.

I_medium 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.

I_mediumIf you've ever wanted to spend some quality time with all three of Louisville's men's basketball championship trophies, your moment has arrived.

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Click here for more info.

I_medium 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.

I_mediumDid 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.

I_mediumIn terms of colleges whose players offer the best NFL Draft value, Louisville ranks No. 8.

I_medium If you enjoy Jimmy John's and live near Louisville, treat yourself to a $1 sub today between 11-3.

I_medium 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.

I_medium A good piece from Grantland on the scene in Louisville a little over a week ago.

I_medium And finally, Siva, the horse, will run in the second race at Keeneland this Friday at 1:36 p.m. You should probably be able to get pretty decent odds there.

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