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Thursday evening Cardinal news and notes

Declan Maggard gave up even thinking about pants after the Northern Iowa win.

I_medium Spread Check: Louisville by 3.

I_medium We'll be having a "where we're watching post" up tomorrow morning/afternoon, so please submit your viewing locations to me via email/Twitter/comment section or whatever if you'd like it to be included.

I_medium Ohhh lawd it's on.

I_medium Jay Bilas says that he likes Louisville's chances to make it to Indianapolis if the Cards advance Friday and wind up matched with Michigan State in the Elite Eight.

I_medium Luke Winn's updated SI power rankings for the Sweet 16 have Louisville at No. 11, one spot ahead of their Friday opponent.

One scenario in which the Cardinals don't have the upper hand on N.C. State? After-timeout efficiency. I took Synergy Sports Technology's season-long offensive ATO data, adjusted it for strength of schedule, and among Sweet 16 teams, Louisville comes in 15th and NC State is 8th.

(Another game where I could see this coming up big: the potential Wisconsin-Arizona rematch in the Elite Eight, which could very well be decided by 1-2 possessions. The Badgers hold a massive advantage over the Wildcats in ATO offense.)

I_medium Wisconsin has been awfully fun to follow this postseason.

I_medium Doug Gottlieb picked NC State. So there's that. The other four CBS folks, however, like the Cards to move on to Sunday.

I_medium David Jones of Penn Live says Louisville-NC State could pass for an NIT semifinal.

The Wolfpack, meanwhile, did away with Nova by basically playing tougher and toward their athleticism. Nothing about Mark Gottfried's Pack is particularly compelling. During the meat of the season, mid-December to mid-February, they lost 10 of 16 games.

But they began to turn it around actually with a 74-65 win at Louisville in which the Cardinals could not contain the Pack's lead guard, 6-2 sophomore Anthony "Cat" Barber. He consistently blew by the Cards with baseline drives and got to the free throw line 13 times (making 10) for 21 points.

Who gets to check him? That's the freshman Snider. Good luck, kid.

All in all, it shapes up as something of a rock fight with no one compelling to root for. N.C. State will lie back on defense and that jibes perfectly with Louisville's inability to hit the three. Delightful. At the same time, the Cardinals have a little more interior muscle than doughnut Nova and will give the Pack a battle on the glass the Wildcats did not.

Any way you slice it, if there's a game you can pretend to really want to see, then agree to join the wife on a Bed Bath & Beyond trip because, well, you miss her, this is the one. I expect an ugly game in the high 50s or so with Louisville prevailing only because Pitino gets the edge on Gottfried: 'Ville, 59-54.

I'm told he's available for parties.

I_medium Dean Smith left $200 in his will to 180 former players so they could have a "dinner out," because Dean Smith was the absolute best.

I_medium NFL Draft scout Matt Miller had some high-praise for former Card John Miller (no relation).

I_medium Montrezl Harrell explains that he's wearing yellow shoelaces during the NCAA Tournament to support pediatric cancer research and our man Gavin Howard.

I_medium Athlon takes a look at Louisville football's biggest spring storylines. No. 1 shouldn't surprise you.

I_medium Insider Louisville's Mark Coomes isn't especially confident about the Cards going forward.

I'm not convinced that Northern Iowa was the breakthrough game many perceive it to be. The Panthers were athletically overmatched. The Wolfpack won't be. Nor will the winner of Friday's other East semifinal between Oklahoma and Michigan State.

I'm even more convinced that Louisville won't advance unless Harrell ramps up his production. He's averaging only 11 points and five rebounds in the NCAAs.

N.C. State is red hot, having beaten two teams far superior to Louisville's NCAA foes, top-seeded Villanova and ninth-seeded LSU. The Wolfpack are erratic but gifted. Barber and running mate Trevor Lacey are as dangerous as any backcourt in American, and the Pack's front line, led by bruising center Beejay Anya, outrebounded U of L 47-37 last month.

I_medium Teddy Bridgewater will be making two appearances in Louisville on Saturday.

I_medium Bruce Feldman says there's a very interesting comparison between the rebuilding job Charlie Strong is working on at Texas and the one he did at Louisville.

I_medium We still is smart.

I_medium Alvin Sims recently recorded a Louisville/Alvin Sims-themed rap song. You can listen to it here.

I_medium Scotty Davenport, Reece Gaines and the Bellarmine Knights advanced to the D-II Final Four with a 92-75 win over Minnesota State Moorhead on Wednesday. They'll look to advance to the championship game by avenging an earlier loss to Florida Southern tonight at 9:30. You can watch the game live right here.

If Bellarmine wins, they'll play for the national championship on Saturday at 3 p.m. on CBS.

I_medium Press up on David Levitch at your own risk. 'Cause you might get embarrassed.

I_medium Rick Bozich discusses Cat Barber and his now infamous visit to Louisville back in 2013.

I_medium Athlon's four college hoops writers are split on their Louisville/NC State predictions.

NC State will win if...

The Wolfpack's bigs can turn this into a perimeter game. BeeJay Anya is a standout shotblocker, but he isn't the only big body who will try to counter Montrezl Harrell. Anya, Abdul-Malik Abu, Kyle Washington and Lennard Freeman all stand 6-8 or taller. Louisville ranks 308th in 3-point shooting (30.8 percent), so NC State will try to make this a perimeter game.

Louisville will win if...

The Cardinals can shut down the NC State guards. Trevor Lacey, Ralston Turner and Barber all average more than 12 points per game. No forward averages more than 6.7. NC State might not be able to survive an off night by one or two of their standout guards.

Athlon Staff Predictions

David Fox: Louisville 77-74

Braden Gall: NC State 68-64

Mitch Light: Louisville 66-60

Jake Rose: NC State 64-62

I_medium When U of L needed someone to step up and save the day against South Florida, Jude Schimmel thought simply, "why not me?"

I_medium The Asbury Park Press lists five players to watch at the East Regional this weekend, a list which includes two Cardinals. You get two guesses.

I_medium John Clay tries his hand at re-ranking the Sweet 16 and has Louisville at No. 9.

I_medium And finally, beat NC State.