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Wednesday morning Cardinal news and notes

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'Sup, Noles?

I_medium Spread check: Louisville by 9.5.

I_medium Two more top five teams lost last night, because apparently that's just the way things are going to be. Chicken Knowles and Houston almost ruined SMU's imperfect perfect season, but they didn't, and Virginia denied Clemson its first 6-1 ACC start ... ever.

Here are your full top 25 results from Tuesday night:

I_medium CBS previews Louisville-FSU.

I_medium The Louisville women are now all the way up to a No. 3 seed in the latest ESPN bracketology.

I_medium Athlon lists Louisville football as one of its top 10 teams on the rise for 2016.

Louisville

The ACC's Atlantic Division will be top heavy next year, as Florida State and Clemson should be in contention for a playoff spot, while Louisville is poised to build off an 8-5 record in 2015. The Cardinals won six out of their last seven games last season, including a 27-21 win over Texas A&M in the Music City Bowl and a 38-24 victory over rival Kentucky. Led by dynamic quarterback Lamar Jackson, the offense is poised for a breakout season in 2016. Jackson's rushing ability is a huge asset for an offense looking for the right pieces up front, and this team returns every major contributor at receiver and running back. Linebacker James Burgess and ends Sheldon Rankins and Pio Vatuvei are big losses, but the defense returns largely intact. Linebackers Keith Kelsey and Devonte Fields will be two of the best in the ACC at their position in 2016, while safety Josh Harvey-Clemons is back after a solid performance in the Music City Bowl. Louisville's schedule is favorable for a run at 10 wins, including home games against Florida State and Kentucky, along with favorable crossover contests in league play against Duke and Virginia.

I_medium Keith Brown has announced that he will play his final season of college football at Western Kentucky.

Best of luck to him and the 'Tops.

I_medium Louisville is up eight spots to No. 14 in the latest college hoops power poll from ESPN.

I_medium SI's latest bubble watch has Louisville as a tournament lock.

I_medium Keith Kelsey is ready to get back on the field today.

I_medium Sad story from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on former Indiana/Steelers great Antwaan Randle El, who says his deteriorating health at the age of just 36 has him wishing that he'd pursued baseball instead of football.

I_medium The ACC is going to be loaded at running back next season.

I_medium What's the most rewarding part of my job? Probably the reader response consistency.

Wasted time isn't wasted if you enjoyed wasting it, PokerChris. Rafiki said that.

Have they heard of The Lion King in Philadelphia? Probably.

I_medium Running back Dae Williams, who visited Louisville last weekend, decommitted from SMU on Tuesday. Make of that what you will.

I_medium ESPN's countdown of the 25 best ACC football players from the past season includes (so far) Devonte Fields at No. 24.

24. Louisville linebacker Devonte Fields

It was a slow start for the TCU transfer, but once Fields found his footing in Todd Grantham's defense, he was as fierce a weapon as any pass-rusher in the nation. From Week 8 through bowl season, Fields led the nation in sacks (10.5) and his 1.73 tackles for loss per game this season overall tied for best among all FBS players.

I_medium The Cards sit at No. 19 in the current top 25 (and one) from Gary Parrish of CBS.

I_medium He never left.

I_medium U of L commit Caleb Tillman says he's "done" with recruiting and ready to get on campus at U of L.

I_medium The Daily Nole takes a look at tonight's game.

FSU Player to Watch: Dwayne Bacon
Against a stout Louisville defense that is holding opponents to just 58 points per game, the Seminoles will need to get points inside. FSU lacks a true post presence, so it will have to try to attack off the dribble and that's where freshman slasher Dwayne Bacon comes in. When playing under control, Bacon is extremely difficult to stop on the drive. Bacon was extremely aggressive early against Virginia on Sunday and staying in attack mode against the Cardinals could not only lead to points, but could perhaps draw fouls on Onuaku and open up opportunities for his teammates on the perimeter. 

Key Match-up: Boris Bojanovsky vs. Chinanu Onuaku
Doing a better job on the glass has been a big reason for Florida State's recent turnaround, but the Seminoles have not faced a rebounding team as good as Louisville. Limiting second chance points and having a presence inside will be key toward FSU pulling an upset on Wednesday. For that to happen, 7-3 Boris Bojanovsky will need to play well. Against one of the ACC's leading rebounders and shot-blockers in Chinanu Onuaku, Bojanovsky will not only need to be strong on the glass, but he'll need to be a threat offensively to lure Onuaku away from the basket. Bojanovsky could use a bounce-back performance after finishing with just 2 points and a rebound in 12 minutes against Virginia on Sunday.

I_medium Congratulations to Asia Durr, who has been named the USBWA National Freshman of the Week.

I_medium Do not purchase this jersey:

*The advice in this blurb may be utilized by both Louisville and Utah fans. In the biz, we call that a 2-for-1.

I_medium The Crunch Zone takes an early look at Louisville football's offensive roster for 2016.

I_medium Quick reminder that you're going to want to arrive at this evening's game ... early.

I_medium We've known about it for a while now, but Purdue officially announced on Tuesday that it will be opening the 2017 season against Louisville on Sept. 2 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The Boilermakers also announced a home-and-home series with Boston College.

I_medium Re-upping on defense is Louisville's top recruiting priority right now.

Biggest need: Louisville got some good news when Keith Kelsey and Devonte Fields decided to come back to school for their senior seasons. But the fact remains the Cards are losing four starters among their front seven, including standout end Sheldon Rankins and linebacker James Burgess. The three returning starters are seniors. Plus, Trevon Young's status is unknown after he sustained a serious hip injury in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. So they should hit linebacker and defensive line hard in recruiting -- especially because these are crucial positions for the attacking defense favored by Todd Grantham. In 2014 and 2015, Louisville had one linebacker make the first-team All-ACC squad: Lorenzo Mauldin and Kelsey. Fields has an opportunity to be a preseason All-ACC selection after finishing this past season strong. Beyond Kelsey and Fields, Stacy Thomas showed potential but depth needs to be developed across the board at all four linebacker spots as well as on the defensive line. --Andrea Adelson

Recruiting scoop: Replenishing the defense continues to be at the top of the board for Louisville after a number of difference-makers have moved on to the NFL in the last couple of years. The linebacker position is one of need in this year's class, and the Cardinals staff has rangy athleticism headed to campus. Four-star and former South Carolina verbal P.J. Blue out of Alabama has the look of a future multiyear starter. A hybrid end/linebacker with very long arms on the commit list is Tabarius Peterson. The Atlanta-area prospect is another with a very high ceiling headed to Louisville. Both prospects will bring range and pass-rush ability to the future of the Cardinals defense. -- Gerry Hamilton

I_medium Your preview for tonight from GoCards.com.

I_medium Louisville's Courtney Lock was named Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Tennis Player of the Week on January 19.

I_medium We're all sick of the Ben Simmons slurp-fest, but this is a well executed burn.

I_medium The latest SB Nation Bracketology has the Cards as a six seed.

I_medium If you missed yesterday's R&R show with Eric Wood and Jeff Goodman, you can find it here.

I_medium Tomahawk Nation serves up its preview of tonight's tilt.

Louisville likes helter-skelter games. Their pressure defense leads to a lot of quick possessions, and like FSU, that's where they are at their best. They are the best offensive rebounding team in the nation and they want everything at the rim. 60% of their points come on 2s, which is the 6th most in the country.

All of this adds up to the No. 38 offense in the nation.

It's the other side of the floor where Louisville is elite. They are the most efficient defense in the country (and top-5 for the 8th time in 9 years). They can pressure the length of the floor and they contest everything. Pitt, who has a top 10 offense, scored just 41 points in 63 possessions.

The good news is that FSU has already faced two high-pressure teams - VCU and Florida - and beat them both. The bad news is that Louisville's defense is on a whole different level.

I_medium And finally, beat Florida State.