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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Caleb and Ian Ronald have spent half their lives waiting for these next two games.

I_medium Spread check: no line just yet, but I'm going to guess Cards -5.5.

I_medium The Louisville women are just destroying fools right now, and it is awesome.

I_medium Eric Crawford examines how Jeff Walz's team went from 1-4 to winners of 13 games in a row.

I_medium Louisville baseball is No. 2 in yet another preseason top 25. This time it's USA Today which refuses to grow a pair and bump the Cardinals up to No. 1.

I_medium Louisville finally cracks the top 16 of Luke Winn's power poll, which would like you to know that Saturday is a loaded one for college hoops.

This Saturday, Jan. 30, is shaping up to be one of my favorite days of the season. No other day has had four must-must-must watch games with such minimal TV overlap:

--Virginia at Louisville, 1 p.m., CBS: This is the Cardinals' chance finally to beat someone of merit. Their inclusion in the Power Rankings is based mostly on faith that the excellent efficiency numbers they've been putting up against mediocre competition mean more than just that they're able to beat up on mediocre competition. Louisville, of late, looks like a team that can actually challenge North Carolina for the ACC title.

--Iowa State at Texas A&M, 2 p.m., ESPN: This will be the best defense the Cyclones have faced yet this season, and the Caruso-guarding-Morris matchup should be particularly good.

--Oklahoma at LSU, 5 p.m., ESPN: Were you aware this game has GREEN ROOM GUYS? Expect the network to make a small effort to let you know. Ben Simmons, whose SI profile went online this week, should find himself in some interesting matchups against a team whose big men may not be best-suited to guarding on the perimeter.

--Kentucky at Kansas, 7 p.m., ESPN: After a rough stretch, this is the perfect stage for the Jayhawks to remind people they're a prime title contender ... or to let Kentucky get back into that conversation, at least as a dark horse.

I_medium The Cards are also No. 16 in Gary Parrish's latest rankings for CBS.

I_medium Virginia has been a bad road team all season, but they're hoping Tuesday night's miracle comeback at Wake will create some momentum heading into Saturday's game at the Yum Center.

I_medium Trey Lewis rules.

I_medium U of L recaps the win over Virginia Tech.

I_medium The Daily Press does the same.

I_medium Arizona State's infamous curtain of distraction busted out Michael Phelps Thursday night while some poor soul from Oregon State attempted to make a free-throw.

I_medium John Higgins sucks, and everyone knows it.

I_medium ESPN ranks Deion Branch as the 37th-best Super Bowl MVP of all-time. Mike Rutherford ranks him as the coolest.


WR, New England Patriots
Super Bowl XXXIX

Branch caught 11 passes for 133 yards in the Patriots' 24-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The score was tied 7-7 in the third quarter when Tom Brady looked for Branch five times during a nine-play touchdown drive. Branch caught four passes for 71 yards during the drive, gaining 27 yards on third-and-6 before tacking on another 15 yards on third-and-10. This performance gave Branch 21 receptions for 276 yards in New England's back-to-back Super Bowl victories.

I_medium The University of Louisville No. 10 men’s and No. 9 women’s swimming and diving teams will return to the competition pool this weekend when they host No. 12w/9m Indiana for Senior Day on Friday evening at 5 p.m. at the Ralph Wright Natatorium. Before the meet, the Cardinals will honor the team’s nine seniors – Devon Bibault, Nate Bond, Pedro Coutinho, Bryan Draganosky, Andrea Kneppers, Lucy Kramer, Sean Piner, Dexter Thomas, and world record holder/2015 Card Chronicle Person of the Year Kelsi Worrell.

I_medium U of L athletics is holding another online auction, giving you the opportunity to purchase a handful of game-worn items from a few different sports.

I_medium The Hokie unsuccessfully tried to eat this child Wednesday night in Blacksburg.

I_medium Louisville is No. 2 in the latest power poll (video) from the ACC Digital Network.

I_medium Western Kentucky has officially announced that former Louisville football players Keith Brown, Nick Dawson-Brents and Tyler Ferguson will be Hilltoppers for the 2016 season.

I_medium Interesting.

I_medium If Burns does not recommit, Florida cornerback Chris Tooley could be his replacement in the class. Tooley is visiting U of L this weekend.

I_medium Your ACC dunks of the week are here.

I_medium Former U of L quarterback commit Tylin Oden has committed to Rutgers, which is all the excuse I need to post perhaps the most batshit crazy game promotion I've ever seen.

I just have a hard time imagining how the production meeting that led to this being green-lighted went down.

"Ok, so how the hell are we going to make a Rutgers game seem interesting at this point?"

Second dude snorts a line

"Just trust me on this..."

I_medium Trinity product Max Martin will walk-on at Louisville.

I_medium The second best time of the year in Louisville is right around the corner.

I_medium NFL mocks breaks down Sheldon Rankins.

I_medium Virginia Tech did everything right against Louisville on Wednesday night, except win.

Williams apologized to his team after the setback.

"You did everything I asked you to do," Williams said he told his players. "I thought you played with great heart and energy."

And why apologize?

"I think if you're a teacher and you're (telling) your students, this is what you need to learn and this is what you need to do, and if they do those things, at some point it has to be the coach's fault," Williams said.

This wasn't the coach's fault. This was simply the bigger, better, deeper team prevailing. Specifically, this was two older players, graduate transfers Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, prevailing.

I_medium Miami WR Pie Young (PIE YOUNG!) has a final three of Louisville, Michigan and USC.

I_medium The ratings report from Wednesday night:

I_medium Virginia's official site previews Saturday's game.

I_medium ESPN has a great read on Emmonnie Henderson, who is taking the year off from basketball in an attempt to qualify for the Olympics.

The plan up until then was for Henderson to restart a familiar cycle all over again. She first started competing in the shot put and discus in middle school at the urging of a basketball coach who thought it would be a good use of her offseason. But she soon found herself anxiously looking ahead to track and field as basketball seasons rolled by, then experiencing sadness when the too-brief throwing sojourn ended each spring.

Throwing events aren't glamorous, often cast to the far reaches or auxiliary fields of sites and demanding both brute strength and precise technique. Like most track and field events, they are solitary endeavors disguised as team events. But something about them appealed.

"Being an only child, I see them as my sisters and everything," Henderson said of her basketball teammates. "But with track and field, I don't know, I just take to having control of my success and my outcomes better than I do with having a team, having to depend on other people for a certain goal. Not saying I can't, but I just like that lifestyle more. And then my track and field teammates, we're here and we do our thing and we laugh and stuff at practice and everything.

"But then after that, we go our separate ways, we don't have to live together, we don't have to do all this stuff together. It's a very different lifestyle. I like the track lifestyle a little bit more."

The catch was that she was always a really good basketball player. Even this past year, after a sophomore season as the seventh or eighth player in the Louisville rotation, she seemed on the verge of bigger things.

I_medium The Crunch Zone previews the Virginia game.

I_medium Former Texas A&M QB Kyle Allen (remember him?) tweeted that he's looking to sublet his apartment in College Station. It didn't go well for him.

I_medium Streaking the Lawn lays out three keys to victory for Virginia on Saturday.

1. Get to the free-throw line

Louisville's defense is a tough one to beat. They make opponents miss both from inside the paint and beyond the arc, and they force turnovers too. The trade-off is that the Cardinals also foul often (277th in FTA/FGA).  The Hoos aren't primed to take advantage, as they enter ranked 234th at getting to the FT line and especially haven't done so on the road.

The team can't settle for jumpers (especially of the mid-range variety), and has to be aggressive getting the ball inside.

On a more positive note, UVA performed well against West Virginia, who ranks #1 in adjusted defensive efficiency with a unit that makes opponents miss and turn it over, but fouls often (though Louisville doesn't press with quite the same ferocity).  In that game, the Hoos took only 8 three-pointers but made 24 of their 35 two point attempts and attempted 20 free-throws. A similarly-styled effort will be key.

2. Protect the defensive glass (and grab a few more on offense).

Louisville relies heavily on offensive rebounding to score.  But in conference games, they haven't done so with quite as much success as they've had early on and had to rely heavily on their defense to win.   The Hoos have generally done an excellent job defensive rebounding during conference play, a saving grace of its otherwise meek defense, and have to continue to box out against a tougher and more aggressive team.

The Hoos have, however, slipped on the offensive end, where they rank just 13th in the conference. They have especially struggled on the road, where they've rebounded just 24% of their own misses. That's gotta change.

3. Get production from someone outside the "Big 3"

In Virginia's three ACC losses, Malcolm Brogdon, London Perrantes, and Anthony Gill haven't always played their best games. (Brogdon has combined to shoot 14 of 48 from the field, Perrantes had 2 or more TOs in each, and Gill combined for one offensive rebound against GT and FSU).

But they haven't had much help either, combining to score 72% of the team's points in those 3 games, while no other player has scored more than 7. (Remember the good old days, when Darius Thompson scored in double figures against WVU and Villanova, or Mike Tobey had 12 and 15, respectively, versus Miami and Notre Dame?)

Mike Tobey has the chance to be an X-factor against the Cardinals. UVA needs his length, they need his rebounding ability, and they need him to take some of the pressure against Anthony Gill, who has been forced to "do it all"  lately.

I_medium STL also has Louisville at No. 2 in its ACC power rankings.

I_medium Super Bowl prop bets remain fascinating ...


Will Peyton Manning announce his retirement in the postgame interview?

Yes      +500  (5/1)

No        -1000 (1/10)

(Note: Must be on live broadcast.)

Will Peyton Manning be seen crying at any point during the entire Broadcast?

Yes      +600  (6/1)

No        -1200 (1/12)

(Note: Live pictures only, must clearly see a tear.)

How many times will "dab" or "dabbing" be said by the announcers during the Broadcast?

Over     2          (EVEN, 1/1)

Under   2          (-140, 5/7)

(Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)

How many times will Cam Newton do the Open Shirt Superman motion during the game?

Over     2.5        (EVEN, 1/1)

Under   2.5        (-140, 5/7)

(Note: From kickoff to final whistle, halftime does not count.)

If Steph Curry is shown on TV during the Broadcast what will he be wearing?

Personalized Carolina Steph Curry Jersey           1/1

No Jersey                                                         2/1

Cam Newton Jersey                                           3/1

Any Other Carolina Jersey                                  5/1

Will Mike Carey be wrong about a challenge?

Yes      +110 (11/10)

No        -150 (2/3)

(Note: He must be consulted on live broadcast and must clearly take a stance on his position. If not consulted wagers will be No Action.)

Will there be an earthquake during the game?

Yes      10/1

(Note: Announcer must indicate there was during live broadcast from kickoff until final whistle.)

I_medium Very cool.

I_medium This is the ninth-driest January in the history of Louisville. Only because I haven't been able to get onto a court.

I_medium The Louisville Cardinal examines all of the offensive returnees Bobby Petrino has to work with next fall.

I_medium ESPN says Louisville-Virginia is the best game of the weekend that has nothing to do with the Big 12-SEC Challenge.

Best game that has nothing to do with the Big 12, SEC or challenges

No. 11 Virginia Cavaliers at No. 16 Louisville Cardinals

Virginia's absolute miracle of a win at Wake Forest Tuesday -- when they trailed 64-54 with 1:23 left to play and won 72-71 on a banked Darius Thompsonprayer -- may have helped the Cavaliers break their hesitant tendencies on the road. It certainly broke their winless ACC road streak. Either way, it's good news, because the next road test is their toughest yet. Probably, anyway. We know that Rick Pitino has his Louisville Cardinals playing ferocious, nationally elite defense, and we know U of L gets just enough from guards Damion Lee and Trey Lewis and super-underrated center Chinanu Onuaku to get by on offense. What we don't know, even at this late date, is whether Louisville's impressive per-possession numbers are a function of a soft nonconference and a backloaded ACC schedule. We'll (finally) get a better idea here.

I_medium And finally, beat Virginia ... I can't wait to.