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Checking in on Louisville North

It's cold in the Commonwealth, but a lot of former Cardinals are even colder.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

When winter rolls around, it's hard not to complain about how cold it is outside. A lot of people tweet about it, while some talk about it when they get to work or with random people at Kroger. Whoever doesn't do any or all of those things at least thinks something to themselves on those mornings when it takes a few minutes for the car to heat up.

It makes sense. Being cold isn't fun for human beings. But for a pretty remarkable number of people with ties to the Louisville athletic department, being cold is a fact of life that is inescapable. We're talking of course about the state of Minnesota, where former Cardinals Teddy Bridgewater, Gorgui Dieng, Richard Pitino and Asia Taylor all currently reside. Some day (hopefully soon), former baseball Card Nick Burdi will be there too.

Since most of the country has been frozen recently - relatively speaking, of course - now seems like a good time to check in on how all of those Cards are adjusting to their new(ish) homes in northern climbs. For the record, the forecasted high temperatures for the next three days in Minneapolis are 6, 16 and 15 degrees, respectively. It makes 21, 28 and 39 degrees (the forecasted highs in Louisville) seem positively balmy. Tropical, some might say.

We'll kick things off with Teddy Bridgewater, who just finished up his rookie season with the Minnesota Vikings. Going with the theme here, it's important to mention that the Vikes played outside this season at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium. They'll do it again next season before moving into this beauty in 2016. By then, it'll be nicknamed the "House that Ted Built". Is it already nicknamed that?

Anyway, Bridgewater's rookie season has been widely considered a success. He's up for NFL Rookie of the Year (vote here), and deserves a ton of credit for playing the way he did on a Vikings team that simply isn't very good yet. You've likely read the accolades already, but the highlights include finishing the season with the third highest completion percentage for a rookie in NFL history (64.4), tossing for 14 touchdowns in his 13 games and winning Rookie of the Week honors twice (he was nominated four times).

The Vikings finished the season 7-9 in a tough NFC North, and with a great head coach in Mike Zimmer and Bridgewater guiding the offense, they at least have a chance of making noise in seasons to come. Folks in Louisville knew well before the rest of the world did that Bridgewater was the best quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft, and he went on to prove that fairly resoundingly in his rookie campaign.

Let's take a quick trip back to last year's draft, when the favorite team of this post's author traded up in the first round to select a quarterback that isn't as good as Teddy Bridgewater:

It may be miserably frigid in Minnesota, but Vikings fans have a legitimate reason to be excited for this offseason. The author of this article has no reason to be excited and is actually feeling quite miserable and frigid. Nevertheless, we can all agree here that we're really glad that Bridgewater is getting the chance he deserves and the recognition he deserves for being a budding NFL quarterback and an excellent human being. Go Teddy.

Moving right along, Gorgui Dieng and Richard Pitino are in their second seasons in Minnesota with the Timberwolves and Golden Gophers, respectively. Why are they being mentioned together? Because Gorgui Dieng is a good friend and went to support Pitino at The Barn for Minnesota's recent matchup with Ohio State. He even brought Shabazz.

Andrew Wiggins came too, because when Gorgui does something, it probably means that it's a good idea.

Dieng has broken into the lineup as a regular this season for the struggling T-Wolves, starting in 26 of his 34 games played. As a starter, he's averaging a hair over 10 points and nearly nine rebounds a game while also blocking almost two shots per contest. As is the case with Teddy, it surprises nobody here that Dieng has developed pretty quickly into a solid NBA player despite not being at the top of most teams' priority lists on draft day. Gorgui's full stats, splits and such are here.

As for Richard, his Golden Gophers lost that Ohio State game on Tuesday night in overtime, 74-72. For what it's worth, it was a wildly entertaining game to watch despite being a difficult loss for Pitino. Since Louisville met Minnesota in Puerto Rico, the Gophers have struggled to win some of their more marquee match-ups (they're now 11-5 overall) and are 0-3 to start Big Ten play. After losses to Purdue, Maryland and Ohio State to start the conference slate, Minnesota will get another crack at their first B1G win in Ann Arbor on Saturday against a questionable Michigan squad.

Rounding out the Minnesota/Louisville basketball connection is Asia Taylor, who played in her rookie season this past summer with the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx. She saw limited minutes in 22 games played, but did make a pair of playoff appearances in the Lynx's run to the West Conference finals. There are worse things than getting to ball with Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus on a playoff basketball team. Check out Asia's full stats, splits and such here.

Last but not least, it's only fair to include former Louisville baseball flamethrower Nick Burdi (MiLB profile here) in this discussion, even though he has yet to make his Minnesota Twins debut. After being a second round pick of the Twins (46th overall) last summer, Burdi got his start with the Single-A Cedar Rapids Kernels before ultimately finishing the season with the Advanced-A Fort Myers Miracle.

There were some early struggles in Cedar Rapids, but Burdi collected himself down the stretch with Fort Myers, posting a 2-0 record and not allowing a run in seven appearances with the Miracle. His strikeout-to-walk ratio was a promising 38/10 on the season, and he certainly proved that he could be a fast mover through the Minnesota system in the coming year. It would make sense to keep his incredibly live arm in the bullpen, which should only expedite the process.

Burdi finds himself in an organization that's absolutely loaded with top prospects, but he's primed to become a part of that crowd in his first full professional season this summer. Baseball America listed him as the seventh-best Twins prospect heading into this season (full list here), and anyone who got to watch him pitch in person at Louisville will attest to the fact that his stuff is electric. Best of luck to him with Spring Training right around the corner.

Winter is in full swing. It's cold, and it's kind of annoying. But whenever you are having a particularly hard time getting snow off of your car this season, just think of Gorgui, Richard and Teddy. They're up there braving worse conditions than the rest of us this winter, and they're still making the folks in Louisville proud. As for Taylor and Burdi, well they're just lucky to have their seasons in the summer, but Louisville is proud of them too.

The state of Louisville North is strong.

Personal Note: Some people may remember this from a News & Notes post a while back, but I was fortunate enough to land an editorial internship with the Sporting News. I start on Monday, and I wanted to write a quick note here thanking Mike and everyone who reads and comments on Card Chronicle. There's no way I'd have this upcoming opportunity without both the chance to write for Mike and the chance to read everyone's comments/criticism/discussions. This community is simply awesome, I've learned a ton, and I'm looking forward to continuing to write here while I'm down in Charlotte and beyond. Cheers.