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Thursday morning Cardinal news and notes

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Shoutout to young Cardinal fan James Hammer of Campbell, CA who won a contest after being able to state the pi ratio to 21 digits. He got to throw a pie in his Kindergarten teacher's face as a prize. Solid way to kick off March Madness.

It's finally here. It's finally back. It's Christmas in March in the city of Louisville again. Breathe it in.

I_medium Spread check: Louisville by 20.

I_medium Let's get it.

I_medium Louisville's open practice time in Indianapolis today will be from 2:15 p.m. to 2:55 p.m. Rick Pitino and a few of the players will also take questions from the media Thursday afternoon.

I_medium The 2017 coin flip bracket happened last night. I wish it hadn't.

Also, remember last year how Syracuse won the CC coin flip bracket and then insanely won like 8 other coin flip brackets? No? Well it happened, and it's happening again this year.

I also went back and looked at past Twitter coin flip bracket announcements, and noticed that the bracket has produced at least one Final Four team in at least five of the last seven years. I say "at least" there because I only posted the championship game results in 2012 and 2013. I was a slacker.

Also, Louisville has now been beaten in the championship game in each of the last two tournaments it's been eligible.

All of this is pretty wild. Don't doubt the coin in March, guys.

I_medium Senator Mitch McConnell filled out a bracket for ESPN. He has Louisville beating Duke in the championship game.

I_medium Here are the eight types of coaches you'll meet during the NCAA tournament, which includes both Rick Pitino and Kevin Keatts.

I_medium Congrats to Patrick Bishop on successfully filling out his first bracket.

Tremendous penmanship and basketball IQ for his age.

I_medium Bruce Pearl and Jimmy Patsos will be the "charismatic" coaches doing studio work this year during the NCAA Tournament. Both should be entertaining.

I_medium Your top-ranked Louisville baseball team bounced back from 3-0 deficit to hammer Xavier 13-4 Wednesday at Jim Patterson Stadium.  The 16-0 Cardinals are now one win away from matching the best start in school history (1957).

I_medium Important research.

I_medium If you haven't seen it yet, Louisville is featured prominently in a new Buffalo Wild Wings March Madness commercial. It's not great.

I_medium68-team college football tournament for this past season would have had Louisville taking on Air Force in the first round, with a revenge game against either Kentucky or LSU waiting in round two.

I_medium Listening to this was the best 2:48 of my Wednesday.

I_medium Coach K has a lengthy and fairly interesting conversation on The David Rubenstein Show.

I_medium USC trailed by 17 last night before coming back to beat Providence in the seventh-largest deficit that's ever been overcome in an NCAA tournament game. Former Cardinal Shaqquan Aaron, for those wondering, scored no points, had one rebound and turned the ball over three times.

I_medium Yahoo ranks the 68 best players in the tournament and has Donovan Mitchell at No. 20.

20. Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville

Mitchell's emergence as a go-to scorer has kept Louisville in the national title hunt. The sophomore is averaging 19.1 points per game since Dec. 31. He's always been a fantastic on-ball defender, and led the ACC in steals this season; now he has the offense to go with the defensive prowess.

I_medium The Fern Creek boys basketball team got a big sendoff yesterday morning as they left to play in the state tournament for the first time in school history. Best of luck to both the Tigers and Ballard in their first round games today.

I_medium In addition to being one of the best talents to come out of this area in a long, long time, Romeo Langford also seems like an extremely likable young man.

I_medium Kevin Keatts has a great chance to upset Virginia this afternoon with UNC Wilmington. Keatts and the state of Virginia have a long history.

I_medium Rick Pitino and Richard Pitino are about to become the first father/son head coaching duo to coach teams in the same NCAA tournament. It might not have happened if father hadn't had some encouraging words for son.

Richard Pitino's great year comes after he had a dreadful one in 2015-16 that left him worried he would lose his job. Last season, the Gophers lost 20 of their final 23 games, including 14 straight losses at one point, during his second year at the school, finishing 8-23.

"I was kind of fighting for my job there," Richard Pitino said. "At the end of the year, we didn't have an (athletic director). There were just a lot of people saying I should be fired, so I was obviously very, very concerned with it."

During those hard times, Rick Pitino didn't advise Richard Pitino much if any on basketball tactics. He just tried to be a supportive father.

"He just said, ‘Be patient. You believe in your recruiting class. You believe in the transfers you're bringing in. Just stay positive, and the stuff can turn,'" Richard Pitino said. "We lost a lot of close games, and this year, we're winning close games. It was just, ‘Keep believing,' more than anything."

I_medium The Bleacher Report's C.J. Moore runs the data on which teams in the field fit the profile of a champion.

I_medium I don't know if ETSU is going to upset Florida today, but they've got a hell of a chance to have the best pregame shootaround in the tournament.

I_medium The 15th-ranked Louisville lacrosse team took down Coastal Carolina, 13-6 on Wednesday.

I_medium Bill Connelly triggers panic in virtually every team in the tournament's fan base by listing the eight signs that your team is probably about to suffer a crippling NCAA tournament loss.

I_medium To no one's surprise, Indianapolis is a pricy ticket this weekend.

Secondary ticket marketplace, TickPick, just released its ticket prices report for Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament, and the most expensive session features Kentucky vs. Northern Kentucky and Dayton vs. Wichita State, which takes place Friday in Indianapolis. That session currently has an average ticket price of $337.76. The least expensive session is Baylor vs. New Mexico State and SMU vs. Providence/USC Friday in Tulsa, which has an average price of $124.30.

Indianapolis, overall, has the highest average price for its two sessions at $292.54. Orlando is cheapest at $146.88. Below is a graph depicting prices for all 16 Round 1 sessions:

I_medium FanSided looks at the one key stat that's going to doom your team in the tournament.

I_medium Getting people who know nothing about college basketball to fill out your bracket for you is as good a philosophy as any.

I_medium While teams across the country are living and dying with the three-point shot, Gonzaga is thriving as a low-point contrarian.

I_medium Speaking of Gonzaga, I wrote this yesterday, and I would dare not venture into the comments.

I_medium Baylor keeps providing One Shining Moments for other teams. They'd like that to stop.

I_medium When you're a Louisvillian in March.

I_medium Luke Winn ranks the double-digit seeds that are most likely to pull an upset in the first round. He's got Rhode Island at one and Middle Tennessee at two.

I_medium Cole Hikutini killin' it.

I_medium Amir Johnson, who was set to go to Louisville before jumping straight to the pros, is picking the Cards to win it all.

I_medium Tickets are available to see the U of L women play in the big dance Saturday and (hopefully) Monday at the Yum Center.

I_medium Even the Germans know that Peyton Siva is a big deal in March.

I_medium According to "numberFire's" metrics, Louisville has a 69.36% chance to make the Sweet Sixteen, a 46.46% chance to make the Elite Eight, a 26.32% chance to make the Final Four, 12.96% chance to make the National Championship and a 6.07% chance to win it all.

I_medium Ken Harbison has busted out a new song just in time for the madness.

I_medium The Louisville Cardinal makes the case for the women's team making it all the way to the Final Four.

I_medium The U of L men's tennis team continues to move up the national rankings.

I_medium At least you beat UNCGB.

I_medium Washington fired Lorenzo Romar yesterday, and that single move had a gigantic ripple effect that will likely result in the nation's No. 1 recruit ending up at Missouri. I wrote about that here.

I_medium A look at the year in Grayson Allen.

I_medium The Indy Star has a tournament capsule of every team headed to Bankers Life this weekend. Here's what they had to say about Jacksonville State.

No. 15 Jacksonville State

Nickname: Gamecocks. Record: 20-14. Bid: Ohio Valley Conference tournament champions. Enrollment: 7,383. Coach: Ray Harper.

3 players to watch: Malcolm Drumwright (6-2 junior): 12.6 ppg, 3.8 apg; Erik Durham (6-4 senior): 11.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg; Norbertas Giga (7-0 junior): 10.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg.

Tournament history: First appearance.

Outlook: The Gamecocks make their NCAA tournament debut after getting through top-seeded Belmont and second-seeded UT Martin on back to back days to clinch their first OVC title since joining the league in 2003. The team's current four-game winning streak ties its longest of the season.

I_medium Jacksonville State is a team that has embraced games away from home all season, so playing in Indianapolis is no big deal for them.

I_medium And finally, enjoy day one of the madness, boys and girls.