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Tuesday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

The Adair twins are choosing to spend their work week away from Cardinal basketball partying.

I_medium Louisville is a No. 2 seed squaring off against Dunk City in the first round of Chris Dobbertean's latest mock bracket for SB Nation.

I_medium ESPN'S John Gasaway breaks down the absurd numbers that the Louisville basketball team has been putting up in recent weeks.

ACC                       W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
1.  Louisville            6-3   68.9    1.13    0.94    +0.19
2.  North Carolina        7-2   74.5    1.14    1.01    +0.13
3.  Virginia              6-2   62.1    1.10    0.98    +0.12
4.  Duke                  5-4   72.6    1.13    1.06    +0.07
5.  Miami                 4-4   67.1    1.05    1.03    +0.02
6.  Florida State         6-3   73.8    1.05    1.03    +0.02
7.  Notre Dame            6-4   66.9    1.07    1.06    +0.01
8.  Syracuse              5-4   67.0    1.12    1.11    +0.01
9.  Wake Forest           3-6   71.7    1.11    1.13    -0.02
10. Georgia Tech          5-4   68.1    0.97    1.01    -0.04
11. Virginia Tech         5-4   71.2    1.09    1.14    -0.05
12. Clemson               2-6   66.4    1.06    1.14    -0.08
13. Boston College        2-7   71.5    1.03    1.12    -0.09
14. NC State              3-6   74.3    1.01    1.14    -0.13
15. Pitt                  1-7   66.0    0.99    1.17    -0.18

AVG.                            69.5    1.07
Acceleration since 2015:       10.0%
KenPom rank: 2
% of games played: 49

Louisville is blowing out opponents, and moreover the Cardinals are doing so without the benefit of either Quentin Snider (injured hip) or Tony Hicks (hand). Any team that's 0.19 points better than the ACC on every possession is, by definition, a threat to win the national title.


I'm certainly not going to sneeze at a win at home over NC State (a feat that Duke tried and rather conspicuously failed to record), but the Truth in Hoops Stat Labeling Act of 2017 does require that I at least show you all the ingredients that went into making that preposterous scoring margin...

Louisville vs. the ACC

                             W-L   Pace    PPP   Opp. PPP    EM
vs. Pitt and NC State        2-0   69.5    1.37    0.80    +0.57
vs. everyone else            4-3   68.7    1.06    0.98    +0.08

In the past Rick Pitino's been known to excel with teams that played outstanding defense as a season-long holding action while they slowly but surely figured out how to score. That could be what's happening here. For his part Donovan Mitchell has suddenly decided that he can make threes, and ACC opponents are finding to their chagrin that last year's 25 percent shooter from beyond the arc is but a distant memory. Against the Wolfpack, Mitchell went off for 28 points thanks to 6-of-10 shooting on his treys.

Put a scorer like that on the floor with what may be the nation's best defense, and you are confronting opponents with one tall order. I will only add two notes of caution to watch for as the Cards' schedule becomes more challenging.

This is not the best bunch of 2-point scorers you will run across, and, for a second consecutive season, this statistically excellent defense is a strangely foul-prone statistically excellent defense. Sure, Pitino has front court depth to burn. Fouls won't hurt this defense, but free throws can most certainly help an opposing offense.

I_medium West Virginia has become one of the best teams in college basketball without the benefit of elite recruits.

I_medium Louisville is No. 7 in Gary Parrish's daily rankings for CBS.

I_medium I think they might have missed one.

Young Donovan, your thoughts?


I_medium The off-court issues continue to pile up for Kansas.

I_medium Louisville is reportedly in the mix for ex-Tennessee star Jalen Hurd.

I_medium The biggest reason for the improvement in Louisville's big men? David Padgett.

"Every other field goal I made is stuff we worked on in individual instruction," Mahmoud said. "It's all stuff we work on so hard. Thank god it's paying off now."

No big man on Louisville's roster has improved more since last season than Mahmoud, who moved into the Cards' starting lineup on Dec. 31 and has averaged 7.7 points, 4.1 rebounds and two blocks per game since that change. But Mahmoud's fellow junior, Jaylen Johnson, is having a strong season, too, and redshirt senior Mangok Mathiang is on a four-game hot streak that has silenced much of the criticism from one particularly loud portion of U of L's fan base. And while he is still a work in progress, sophomore Ray Spalding has consistently impacted games this season.

Padgett, the former U of L star now in his first full season as an assistant coach on Rick Pitino's staff, deserves credit for the Cards' improved frontcourt, players and Padgett's fellow coaches say. He has filled the big-man-coaching void left by Ralph Willard, who came back to U of L for the 2015-16 season and played a key role in Chinanu Onuaku's rapid development into an NBA player.

"I think (Padgett) helps them see the game," Pitino said. "All of our coaches do a great job of teaching the game, but David helps them see it at that position. Most coaches are ex-backcourt players, and David is someone who played here. He's also a coach's son, so he's able to help guys like Anas see it. He's tough on them. He's not easy on them."

I_medium The Louisville lacrosse team will head into the 2017 season ranked No. 18.

I_medium Duke's huge road win over Notre Dame last night leaves Louisville in a third place tie with only Florida State in the updated ACC standings.

I_medium The Cardinal quarterback getting braces trend continues.

I_medium Louisville is a No. 2 seed in the latest Bracketology from The Sporting News.

I_medium The Washington Post has a fascinating read on the where the stars of National Signing Day 2007 are a decade later.

I_medium Love it.

Also, happy belated birthday to Luke.

I_medium Nobody knows what to make of the ACC.

I_medium And finally, Mike Summers says his return to Louisville "just feels right." I agree.