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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

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We're already here, Virginia.

I_medium Spread check: Virginia by 6.5.

I_medium KyForward focuses on EKU-bound Dillon Avare, who reveals that his original plan was to stay just one year at U of L.

When Avare enrolled at UofL after averaging 11.2 points and 4.3 assists as a senior at Lexington Catholic, the original plan was to stay just one year to build his body in the weight room and get some experience against major-college talent, then move on. But he liked UofL, Pitino and his teammates so much he decided to stick around awhile longer.

"I felt like I really fit in here and Coach Pitino was gracious enough to give me another opportunity to keep growing and become a better basketball player," Avare says. "I'm glad I stayed more years to get the experience of playing with these guys."

In practice every day, Avare went against Russ Smith, Terry Rozier and other more skilled players, but despite the fact that he rarely sees action in games, Avare says he was treated like a starter when it came to Pitino's coaching.

"He doesn't care if I am a walk-on or Russ Smith, and that's cool," Avare says. "He gets on me every day and always wants the best for me and I'll always maintain my relationship with him."

Pitino says Avare is one of the most popular and admired players on the team. A sign of that respect is that on the eve of the Cards' Senior Night game Tuesday against Georgia Tech, starting wing and leading scorer Damion Lee texted Pitino asking him to start Avare instead of him.

"Dillon has been one of the team favorites," Lee explained after UofL's 56-53 win. "He's just so generous and caring for everyone that I really wanted to try and honor him, pay homage to him by giving up my start."

It didn't happen, though, nor did Avare even get into the hard-fought game, which pretty much sums up his UofL "career," if it can be called that. He's hoping things will be different at EKU.

I_medium Jeff Greer talked with Rick Pitino on Thursday, and Pitino revealed that the potential Louisville-Memphis game in New York City is still on the table, but it would take place in the 2017-18 season, not next year.

I_medium In an odd twist of fate, after two days of listening to Kentucky fans shit all over Louisville for giving rings and making a video for their two 5th year seniors, I just so happened to catch this clip about UK throwing a parade and giving out "back on top rings" for after its postseason-ineligible season of 1991 just before I turned the TV off and went to bed last night.

Here's the deal: I've got no issue with Kentucky honoring its players in this fashion 25 years ago, and I've got no issue with the way Louisville honored its players Tuesday night. I can't, for the life of me, figure out why that isn't the sentiment carried by every fan in this rivalry.

At some point in the last six or seven years, a segment of BBN drifted down the dark and dreary path of no longer being able to derive enough joy from their own success alone. It now has to be a combination of their success plus something negative (or at least something that's perceived to be negative) concerning Louisville. I mean, UK played and looked pretty damn good Tuesday night, and what U of L did was not just their main topic of discussion, it was -- and again I'm talking about a segment of the fan base, not the whole thing -- their entire topic of discussion.

Kentucky has a good team that's playing some of its best basketball of the season, and is eligible to participate in the most wide-open NCAA Tournament I can remember. If the roles were reversed, I think the excitement level around here would be plenty high enough to keep us from paying too much attention to what any other program in college basketball was up to, let alone an arch-rival with no shot at blocking our potential run to a national title.

Playing the role of Ferris Bueller's sister is no way to go through life.

I_medium Kenny Johnson putting in that road work.

I_medium Rodger Sherman spent some time at Monmouth and wrote this entertaining piece about the Hawks' dream season.

I_medium Myron Medcalf likes the Hoos over the Cards tomorrow night.

No. 11 Louisville at No. 4 Virginia, 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPN:

The box score didn't tell the anticipated story of Virginia's 79-74 win against North Carolina. The Tar Heels connected on 50 percent of their shots inside the arc and surpassed their season averages by connecting on a remarkable 47 percent of their 3-pointers. They also secured a 39 percent offensive rebounding rate. So how did they lose? Well, UNC's 13 turnovers in a 66-possession affair damaged its aspirations. Beyond that, however, Virginia scored 1.20 points per possession. The Cavs' offense outplayed one of the nation's most imposing offenses. If you're looking for a team to trust in March, Virginia makes as much sense as any. Sure, the Cavs are flawed. But they find ways to overcome those issues. In their first meeting with Louisville, they committed 15 turnovers and grabbed only 25 percent of their missed shots. Yet they beat the Cardinals by 16 points ... in Louisville. This is the last game for a Louisville team that will miss the postseason. And that's the fine print on Saturday. The headline, however, will capture Virginia's standing as possibly the team to beat going forward.

Prediction: Virginia 73, Louisville 68

I_medium The recap of this four overtime Minnesota high school state tournament game is one of the most incredible things I've ever read/seen.

I_medium Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated looks at the potential coaching carousel that could take place in the college basketball offseason ahead, and predicts that Louisville won't be a part of it.

Louisville: From the moment the escort scandal broke, Rick Pitino's job security increased every day the school didn't get fire him. UNLV isn't going to happen, as it's hard to imagine Pitino coaching in Laramie, Wyo., and Logan, Utah. The NBA is also unlikely. The reality may be that Pitino ends up back in Louisville, and comments recently to Yahoo's Pat Forde certainly indicate that. The school has proven numb to scandal and let Pitino coach this long. The best guess is he's back on the sideline in 2016-17 and braces for whatever the NCAA investigation finds.

Bottom Line: 75% chance he returns

I_medium The official Virginia website previews tomorrow night's game in Charlottesville.

I_medium No team in the city is safe this March.

I_medium ESPN's college baseball schedule for 2016 features plenty of opportunities to watch the Cards.

I_medium Andy Katz previews (video) Louisville-Virginia.

I_medium Ken Lolla would like to talk to you about the power of positive thinking.

This would have been something I would have loved to have shared with my DePaul basketball team at this point in the season, but alas, the university once again chose to go in the wrong direction.

I_medium Fresh Bracketology from SB Nation's Chris Dobbertean.

I_medium Nice.

I_medium North Florida (remember them?) got blown out by Florida Gulf Coast (remember them?) in the Atlantic Sun semifinals last night, but could still make the NCAA Tournament if tournament-ineligible Stetson beats FGCU in the conference championship game. It's a batshit crazy situation, and here's us trying to explain it the only way we know how.

I_medium Reminder that the Louisville women start postseason play tonight at 6. If you're jonesing for some tournament basketball featuring the mighty Cardinals of the University of Louisville, that's still going to happen.

I_medium Glad he's having success, but still mad that he wasn't named Horsel.

I_medium I've mentioned this before, but I actually have a Naismith Award vote for both Player of the Year and Coach of the Year. How it works is they give you a list of finalists for both awards and you choose at least one and no more than four from that list in the first round of voting, and then in two weeks you vote for one of the three finalists ("final finalists," I guess) in both categories.

Because I love you all and we don't keep any secrets from one another, here were my selections for both awards in the first round of voting today:

POY
Buddy Hield, Oklahoma
Kris Dunn, Providence
Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
Denzel Valentine, Michigan State

COY
Chris Mack, Xavier
Bob Huggins, West Virginia
Jim Larranaga, Miami
Dana Altman, Oregon

If I could have voted Matz for both awards, just know that I would have.

I_medium Louisville swept Murray State in men's tennis this morning. I did not tailgate.

I_medium Even with everything that has gone on, Trey Lewis still says his one year at Louisville was a dream season.

Lewis, a Garfield Heights High School grad, remains upbeat and confident in his decision to transfer to Louisville.

"My goal is still to be a champion," said Lewis, who chose Louisville over the likes of Xavier and Ohio State. "We [still had] a chance to win the conference title. Winning the ACC [would have been] a huge accomplishment. It's still worth it."

Lewis' hopes of ever playing in a postseason were dashed, but playing for the Cardinals fulfilled other goals.

"I'm still living my dream," Lewis said. "We beat great teams like Duke and North Carolina. I've gained so much with the college experience of a lifetime. I got to play for a hall of fame coach. The notoriety of playing here was crazy. This has been a blessing."

I_medium Streaking the Lawn says Damion Lee was a second team All-ACC performer in 2015-16.

I_medium And finally, today marks the final R&R of the men's basketball season, which is still insane to think about. Listen to 93.9 The Ville from 3-6 to see if I break something.